Employees of the 16-dealership Wilson Automotive Group in Orange County, CA, donated $255,000 to charities this year.

The money, part of an annual donation, is in lieu of giving their boss, David Wilson, a combined birthday-Christmas gift.

“Instead of buying the boss another expensive gift, our employees thought of a way to give David — and hundreds of other people — a gift that would last past the holidays,” says Vikki Murphy, Wilson vice president.

In the first year, 130 employees of Toyota of Orange donated $10,000 to the David Wilson Endowment Fund, with the money going to Orangewood Children's Foundation.

Since then, the dealership group has grown. It now employs 2,000 people. The fund has grown to more than $500,000. Current recipients include Orangewood, as well as Olivecrest, Laker's Youth Foundation, United Cerebral Palsey and the American Cancer Society.

“This is quite a tribute to David Wilson; that his employees are honoring him in this way,“ says Gene Howard, director of Orangewood.

Donations come from assorted employees, including sales people, managers, mechanics, clerical staff and parts countermen.

“This isn't something we ask our employees to do. This is something they choose to do every year,” says Ren Rooney, Wilson group president.

Wilson says: “I have the best employees in the world.”

Says Murphy: “Actually, we have the world's greatest boss. David is very generous to his employees, and this is just our way of saying, ‘thanks.’”