Romanelli Communications, a local marketing services agency, is hoping to inspire a new holiday tradition by donating its “secret santa” funds to the Stevens-Swan Humane Society of Oneida County this year. Instead of exchanging gifts between co-workers, employees of the firm decided to pool their holiday gift dollars and make a group donation to a local charity. They chose the Stevens-Swan Humane Society because of their mutual love of dogs.

“One of our employees, Erinn Riley, suggested we might consider another form of giving this year,” said Joe Romanelli, President of Romanelli Communications. “She had seen a news story on how people that have fallen on hard times are abandoning their pets. Like many charities, animal shelters are getting overwhelmed. And since almost everyone in our Agency owns one or more dogs, this kind of donation was a natural for us—we all immediately loved the idea. I think it reflects a larger trend toward charitable giving this year.”

The Stevens-Swan Humane Society (SSHS) of Oneida County is a private nonprofit organization that provides a safe haven to all domestic pets that must be surrendered, are stray, abandoned, homeless, abused, or injured. They serve as a safe haven for nearly 5,000 animals each year that need to be sheltered, regardless of circumstance.

Romanelli Communications, which specializes in creating marketing communications for their clients, even features employee pets in the “About Us” section on their website, www.romanelli.com. Intead of the usual employee profiles, a photo of each employee’s dog is featured, with “quotes” from the dogs, describing their owners.

“Part of what we do is generating and spreading excitement for a brand or company,” said Romanelli. “We hope this small gesture does the same, and inspires others to greater generosity as individuals and businesses struggle in this economy.” A message many of us can take to heart.