On Thursday, July 5th three NORWESCAP locations in Phillipsburg hosted 35 college interns from Mars Chocolate of North America (MCNA) for a day long Intern Volunteer Day. Every year MCNA recruits summer interns from around the country to come to Hackettstown to learn about the various parts of the corporate environment at the world headquarters and the place where M&M candies are made. These interns work in areas such as marketing, finance, engineering and food service. But on this day they volunteered at NORWESCAP’s Food Bank and Head Start locations. The planning for the day began when Miguel Zorilla from MCNA and Patrick Grogan from NORWESCAP met back in April to talk about some ideas about where the interns could volunteer.
The day started off at the main location for MCNA with an introduction from Cassie Cuppek of the Mars staff and a former NORWESCAP AmeriCorps volunteer for the Circles and Arthur & Friends programs in Sussex County. The interns then watched some videos about NORWESCAP from the NORWESCAP U-Tube Channel. Finally, Ken Knipmeyer from the NORWESCAP Board of Trustees talked about the mission of NORWESCAP and how he feels about giving back to the community through volunteering as a Board member and in the various programs at NORWESCAP.
At the Food Bank the volunteers worked on food reclamation – cleaning, sorting and packing donated food for distribution to shelters and food pantries in Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren Counties. In addition they assisted in preparing food for the Summer Feeding Program that provides a nutritious lunch to any child in the Phillipsburg area during the summer months when there is no school meal program available. The Food Bank receives no government grants and therefore relies heavily on the community for donations of food and time in order to distribute over a million pounds of food each year.
Another group of interns worked at the Roseberry St. Head Start/Early Head Start site by doing interior painting in areas such as a classroom and stairwell to help ready the facility for the upcoming program year. When the new program year starts for 2012-2013 there will be a new classroom to accommodate an expanded center. The new classroom is replacing the administrative offices that recently moved to South Main Street in Phillipsburg. At this location the Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide comprehensive home and center based services to children from birth to 4. Services include education, health and nutrition as well as family and individual development plans so the children are ready to enter kindergarten.
The third group of volunteers worked alongside employees from the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission (DRJTBC) moving playground mulch, which is actually shredded rubber tires that is ground up so that when it is placed as a playground surface children have a soft place to land if they fall. During the day they moved about 6 dump trucks loads from the Marshall St. location to the Roseberry St. site. This mulch was from the playground that was closed when the NORWESCAP Preschool program closed after more than 25 years of providing child care services to the Phillipsburg community. By moving the mulch to the Roseberry St. playground for the Head Start Center it assures that the children there will have a soft surface to play on and explore as they grow. The volunteers dug, shoveled, raked and wheel barrowed tons of black rubber until it was spread throughout the playground.
While the day was very hot and landed in the middle of one of our heat waves, at the end of the day everyone gathered inside an air-conditioned classroom at the Roseberry St. center to talk about the day and what was accomplished. Lois Henseler told the group that based upon some quick rough calculations the value of the volunteer work completed during the day to the Head Start program amounted to about $7,000 which will allow NORWESCAP to draw down a total of $28,000 federal dollars to help fund the Head Start services and by moving the mulch from Marshall St. it saves money on purchasing replacement mulch at Roseberry St. This also was the first step to hopefully adding more parking for the employees and visitors relieving the neighborhood parking congestion at that location.
A special thank you goes out to Cassie Cuppek, University Relations Manager and Miguel Zorilla, University Relations Representative from Mars Chocolate north America, Hackettstown for selecting NORWESCAP to partner with on this Day of Volunteering. We would also like to thank the DRJTBC for sending Tom and Lou with a dump truck and loader to help make the day a success. Based upon the success of that day Melinda McLoughlin, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager for Mars Chocolate North America expressed a desire to continue to work together with NORWESCAP in developing an exciting partnership between the two organizations.