As an organization, Houston Relocation Professionals (HRP) has had a longstanding commitment to supporting charitable causes that benefit the Houston community. That was exemplified last week as HRP members gathered at Ouisie's Table for their annual holiday celebration.

Attendees were asked to bring unwrapped toys and gift cards that were donated to Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance.

In addition, two separate monetary donations were presented at the event. The first was a check to Candlelighters in the amount of $17,000, and the second was a check to the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF) in the amount of $30,588.

For more than a decade, Candlelighters has been the lead beneficiary of HRP's annual giving campaign, and HRP has continually encouraged its members to include Candlelighters in their own charitable contributions.

Lynn Wheeler, associate director for Candlelighters, was on hand to receive the donation at the HRP holiday event, and spoke about the organization and what it does for the families it supports.

"We help children with cancer and their families at Texas Children's Cancer Center and at the University of Texas MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. We help with parking, meal passes, gas cards, pharmacy cards and funeral expenses," Wheeler said. "The toys that you brought today are so important to us, because our gifts for our Summer Surprises Program unfortunately were flooded during Hurricane Harvey. "Because of organizations like you, we have our Summer Surprises Program, where we bring gifts to the hospitals. So, we are so grateful to you."

The check for the GHCF was presented to Rebecca Hove, senior director of strategic philanthropy, by Kathleen Baker, director of relocation services at VERSA Relocation. Baker also serves as Worldwide ERC's (Employee Relocation Council) Foundation Chair.

Worldwide ERC's Foundation provides a vehicle for the association's membership to focus on charitable giving with a greater impact and supports education for students impacted by global workforce mobility.

"This has been a year fraught with challenges in different regions," Baker said. "Our industry is always compassionate to the hardships that come from disasters, and we are happy that the Foundation provides a way for our members to focus their giving.

"Speaking specifically to the Hurricane Harvey needs, we worked with a number of regional groups to mobilize our giving with a Foundation match that focused on aid to Hurricane Harvey victims. And we were pleased to deliver a donation of $30,588 to the Greater Houston Community Foundation."

The contribution from the regional groups accounted for $20,588, and then Worldwide ERC's Foundation was able to match that by $10,000.

Also during the event, Mary Piper, director of relocation and operations for Bernstein Realty, was announced as the incoming president of HRP for 2018. She has been a member of the board of directors of HRP for the past three years, and served as this year's vice president.

Of the donation, Piper said she was humbled by the generous donation made by Worldwide ERC's Foundation.

"It was amazing to see that Houston is still high in the minds of Worldwide ERC members three months after Hurricane Harvey. It was especially exciting to be able to share that news during our holiday party, which was attended by so many of our HRP members, who are also members of Worldwide ERC," Piper said.

"As I prepare to take over as president of HRP, it's my goal to continue to grow upon the strength of the foundation that has been put in place by my predecessors."

For the fifth consecutive year, Oler Relocation provided a truck and members of their team for the collection of donated toys and gifts, which were delivered the following day to Candlelighters.

"Over the past several years, we have made it a company-wide initiative to support Candlelighters and the work that they do for the Houston community," said Bryan Oler, senior vice president of Oler Relocation. "We are especially touched by the hardships that these families are facing at this time of year, so we are happy to be able to do what we can to bring them a little bit of holiday cheer."

He also said that while the holidays are always a great time of year for the spirit of giving, that it shouldn't end there.

"Our company's support of Candlelighters isn't just reserved for the holidays, because we know that the families need the support of the local community throughout the year," Oler said.

Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Her work is frequently featured in Worldwide ERC's Mobility magazine, and in various business and industry related publications and corporate blogs. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit "On the Move" at blog.chron.com/onthemove.

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