MEDFORD, N.Y.-International Tire & Wheel Corp. in Medford sells tires and wheels internationally while exporting something special to disadvantaged children around the world-hope. Employees at International Tire & Wheel sponsor four children in four different countries through Children's International, a non-profit organization that provides food, clothes, education and medical treatment to children in third-world nations.
Smayly Gomes in Guatemala, Jairo Ortega in Columbia, Irela Oyulea in Honduras and Goutam Mirdya in India are the lucky recipients of the employees' kindness.
``It's an enjoyable feeling,'' said Theresa Armone, who works in International Tire's bookkeeping department and helped start the program. ``We feel like we're doing something to help.''
All International Tire employees donate their change, and an extra dollar here and there, from their paychecks each week to help the children, according to Carolyn Johanson, who started the program about four years ago.
``I saw an advertisement on TV and thought to myself: `Why don't we start doing this?'*'' she said.
Ms. Johanson said she had ``no problem'' convincing the other 20 or so employees that it was a good idea.
Altogether, the employees donate about $50 a month to Children's International to help feed and clothe the four children. They reach a little deeper into their pockets during holidays or when the children need medical treatment, Ms. Johanson said.
The walls of the bookkeeping department are covered with photographs of the children along with letters and crayon drawings from them, according to Ms. Armone.
``We have so much stuff we're thinking about taking a picture of the walls,'' she said, saying that it's exciting to watch the children grow.
The women also solicit their fellow employees for donations to help those closer to home.
Twice a year, they collect canned and boxed non-perishable food items from the employees. The food is taken to a local church for distribution.
The women also collect toys and donations for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, which distributes toys as Christmas gifts.
Everyone wants to help buy the toys, Ms. Armone said. The only problem is deciding who gets to go. ``We actually argue about who's going to buy the toys.''