For some IT firms, Onam is a time to give back

Onam is the time for feasting on Onasadya, for merry making, for gifting new clothes, for bringing cheer and for celebrating life. But for some companies and a few individuals at Technopark it’s also a time to give back to society. As such, in the lead up to and during the 10 days of Onam, a number of the larger IT companies carry out a range of CSR – management jargon for Corporate Social Responsibility – activities to give something back to the community.

Infosys, for example, seems to be one of the few who always have a well-thought out plan for CSR activities. This time too they have five CSR activities planned especially for Onam season, spearheaded by their CSR club, Sanjeevani. “As always, we will be providing Onam meals to a list of yet-to-be-decided beneficiaries. We’ve already raised funds for the event from among our employees. We’ve also planned a thanksgiving session for our housekeeping staff, most of whom are on contracts and most of whom come from low-income families.

“This year we’ve also tied up with Ashraya, a Kollam-based NGO that works for the empowerment of girls with multiple disabilities. We helped Ashraya to sell 800 to 1,000 greeting cards that had cover designs by the children who are under its care,” says an employee of Infosys, who is part of its CSR team.

Next week, paintings and handicrafts by employees of the company will be on sale on the campus, the proceeds of which will go to charity. The company has also decided to donate a couple of sewing machines to an institution run by and for widows in the city.

Allianz, meanwhile, began its Onam CSR in the beginning of the month, using the money raised at an in-house food fete, to buy linen and mats for orphans at the Satya Sai Orphanage. “We have a three-fold target for this year’s CSR, namely, cancer care, support for the girl child, and support for orphans and the differently-abled. As a step in that direction, this week we are planning to supply Ona kodi (new garments) and Onam grocery kits to families of 30 underprivileged children who are undergoing treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre,” says Maya Thomas, who has been spearheading CSR activities at Allainz for the past four years, along with a core group of 10. “We’ve found that as long as we explain to contributors and potential contributors as to where their money is going, most of them are willing to loosen their purse strings,” she adds.

Alamy Images, meanwhile, kicked off their CSR for the season in the beginning of the month with an eye camp for students of Kaniapuram Upper Primary School, in association with Arvind Eye Hospital, Tirunelveli. “Around 2,500 children participated in the camp, of which 34 require treatment. We’ll be getting the consignment of prescription glasses this week and hope to give it to the kids before Onam,” says Sindhu Pillai, who works in the human resources department of the company.

Every year, apart from sponsoring Onasadyas to the underprivileged, most organisations try and come up with innovative Onam-related ideas for CSR. For instance, if last year Allianz tied up with the Kudumbasree Mission, this time it tied up with some handloom weavers from Balaramapuram, who got to sell their wares on their campus. A percentage of the profit went to the company’s charity fund to support underprivileged girls. “It turned out to be beneficial for the weavers too as they were able to do brisk business,” says Maya. IBS, on the other hand, came up with a food fete during their Onam celebrations on Wednesday, where employees sold homemade payasams to raise money for Candle, the company’s charity wing.

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