The cover of "Zippy’s Special Gift,"  a new children's book written by Zebra's Therese Van Ryne to benefit Bernie's Book Bank.
By Therese Van Ryne | December 07, 2020

Turning the Page on 2020: Reflecting on All the “Special Gifts” We’ve Been Able to Share with Others in Our Communities This Year, including a New Children’s Book That Teaches Kindness and Acceptance

This holiday season, we’re counting our blessings and recounting all the ways that Zebras around the world have stepped up and, in some cases, literally sat down to help make this world a better place.

Zippy, our friendly equine mascot who usually appears in plush form in homes and workplaces across the world, has traveled near and far this year to share Zebra’s message of empowerment: “Capture Your Edge”. Over the past 12 months, she’s been at our global sales kickoff meetings, tradeshows, in our Zebra Experience Center locations, at college recruitment events and even the top of Mount Aconcagua!

Yet, there are many places on her bucket list that she’s eager to see – including your favorite places. So, this holiday season, we’re bringing Zippy to you with our new children’s book, “Zippy’s Special Gift!”

“Zippy’s Special Gift” is the Gift That Gives Back Ten-Fold

At Zebra, we wear our stripes proudly. We appreciate all that makes us unique and have made it our mission to create a more inclusive culture. We have also committed, both as a company and as individuals, to do as much good as we can in the communities where we live and work. In creating this new book – which has been a personal passion project of mine this year, we are inviting readers to follow Zippy on her journey to appreciating her stripes. In turn, we hope this endearing story will inspire people of all ages to see the good in others and instill a sense of belonging.

This book wasn’t just written to inspire, though. It also serves as a vehicle for charitable giving.

As I’ve mentioned several times before here on the Your Edge blog, Zebra is proud to be partnered year-round with Bernie’s Book Bank, a charitable organization with a mission of processing and distributing quality new and gently used children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among underserved children throughout Chicagoland. This year has been a particularly challenging year for the organization as it has worked hard to support children’s literacy amidst school closures and social distancing. Its “Change Their Story” campaign, though quite successful, reached a fraction of the children who could benefit from the gift of books. So, profits from the sale of “Zippy’s Special Gift” will be donated to Bernie’s Book Bank to help the organization continue to provide books for a better life!

If you would like to help us end 2020 on a positive note – spreading kindness while helping to improve children’s literacy – I invite you to surprise someone (or perhaps treat yourself!) with a copy of “Zippy’s Special Gift”. During this season of giving, you may purchase discounted copies of this full-color, hard-copy book to share as a unique gift with family and friends.

Buy Now: Zippy’s Special Gift

(Visit the Mascot Books website and use the promo code ZebraTech for a special discount – the promo code expires Dec. 31, 2020. Any questions related to the book can be sent to

A Year of “Firsts,” but Certainly Not “Lasts”

While we’re turning pages in our children’s book, we’re also turning the page on 2020. What a year it has been! We could spend a while detailing the hardships that came along this year but would far prefer to reflect on how facing adversity has helped us build and maintain our sense of community in many new ways, both within Zebra Nation and the world at large. We’re especially proud of the support we were able to provide through…

Our First Annual Global Week of Service

We realized early on in 2020 that charitable organizations would be asked to uplift communities in extraordinary ways as we endured one of the most widespread public health crises of our generation. In addition to facing all the same operational and safety challenges as for-profit businesses, charitable organizations needed to aid a growing percentage of the global population facing unemployment, furlough, pay cuts and even eviction. An increasing number of individuals and families required assistance in putting food on the table, keeping roofs over their heads and accessing low- to no-cost healthcare.

So, we got to work. After such a successful month-long volunteering challenge in celebration of our 50th anniversary last year, we knew Zebras had an appetite to support their communities in a concerted, company-wide effort. Our first annual Global Week of Service came to fruition in September 2020.

Zebras in over 11 different countries donated their time to more than 45 different causes during our first annual Global Week of Service. Some volunteered virtually by putting vulnerable communities on the map with Missing Maps, and some transcribed documents and became Smithsonian Digital Volunteers. Others met in person with masks on and social distancing maintained to sort clothes for donation at organizations like The Cowshed in England or pack food for local food pantries like The Mississauga Food Bank in Canada.

Our Continued Mentorship of Students with Promising STEM Futures

Over the past few years, we’ve invited many FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) student teams to our offices in Illinois and New York to tour our Zebra Experience Centers, show off their robots to Zebra employees and learn about what it’s like to work at a technology company. In 2020, we kicked off the extension of our efforts across borders to provide an onsite experience to FIRST students in Taiwan.

One of our key objectives is to show students how the skills and knowledge they’re gaining through school and FIRST competitions can create a bridge to STEM careers. We offered a one-day comprehensive curriculum that introduced them to Zebra’s technologies and software, taught them how to give presentations in English, discussed ways to navigate the STEM field with Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) in mind, and provided an inside look at what it’s like to intern with Zebra.

And we’re not finished yet! With the U.S. FIRST® Robotics Competition season in limbo, we’ve decided to host a virtual technology camp series for Illinois FIRST students this month to ensure they have the opportunity to continue their STEM education and Zebra mentorships. Tune in to the blog next month for an update on our progress!

Supporting the Red Cross in Providing Critical Relief Services

As COVID-19 progressed into a pandemic in March, the Red Cross announced it was facing a severe blood shortage as social distancing and shelter-in-place orders led to a serious shortage in donations. So, we launched a campaign and joined in blood drives to do our part. In March, Zebra donated $25,000 to the Red Cross to directly support those who have been impacted most by COVID-19. With the help of our generous customers and partners, we donated another $50,000 in the second half of the year to support COVID-19 antibody testing. Some Zebras even volunteered their time with the Red Cross as paramedics, food donation sorters and care package delivery providers.

With the blood supply continuing to dwindle and the number of people facing economic hardship continuing to grow, the need for both blood and monetary donations remains. The Red Cross has been taking extreme precautions since March to ensure the safety of blood donors, including temperature checks, social distancing between donors and enhanced disinfecting of surfaces and equipment. We hope that you will consider giving blood if you are an eligible donor. If you would prefer to support the organization in other ways, you can make an in-kind financial donation or simply give them your time, either virtually or in person. For example, Zebra just donated an additional $15,000 USD to the Red Cross to support the Hurricane Eta recovery in Central America. Contact your local chapter to learn more about their current needs.

A Final Thought

Our communities will always need us. It’s important that we continue to show up in the best ways we can – whether through a kind gesture to a neighbor or stranger, virtual volunteering, or more philanthropic means.

In “Zippy’s Special Gift,” Zippy’s experience reflects the opportunity we all have to celebrate our differences and create a sense of belonging for everyone. We can do this throughout the year by giving back to others.

As George Bailey said in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, “All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”

At Zebra, we’ll continue to support organizations close to our hearts and empower the people in our communities to capture their personal edge during the pandemic, our annual Global Week of Service and even the traditional “season of giving.” We want to help ensure people have the support needed to find, own and shine through in his or her own stripes!

Inside Zebra Nation, Corporate Social Responsibility,
Therese Van Ryne
Therese Van Ryne

Therese Van Ryne is Senior Director of External Communications for Zebra Technologies. She joined Zebra as part of the acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise business in October 2014. She and her team are laser focused on growing the company’s brand awareness globally aligned with business objectives. Her accomplishments include leading Zebra events with Harvard University and TED as well as the creation of the annual Intelligent Enterprise Index, resulting in positive media coverage, customer engagement and revenue growth.

Prior to Motorola Solutions, Van Ryne worked at SC Johnson where she led corporate communication strategies and drove PR and branding efforts for leading consumer products. One of her top achievements was leading the Windex® placement in the film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” resulting in a 25% sales increase for the brand.

One of PR News’ 2019 Top Women in PR and Crain's Chicago's 2021 Most Notable Executives in Marketing, Therese also has experience as a journalist, editor and producer, reporting nightly from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Van Ryne holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from Marquette University and an Executive Leadership Master’s Certificate from Cornell University.