Now in its third incarnation since the spring of 2015, Shore's United in Service day, held October 1, brought together scores of Shore community members to volunteer on behalf of local non-profits. This year the United in Service initiative, a partnership with the North Shore United Way, continues throughout the month of October with projects to benefit additional organizations.
Despite rainy and chilly weather conditions on kickoff Saturday, dozens of Shore families, totaling almost 100 parents and children, came out to support organizations including Beverly Hospital, Beverly Children's Learning Center, the Food Project, Northeast Arc, and the Open Door Pantry, among others. All told, Shore volunteers contributed around 300 hours of work to these worthy local causes.
"What an amazing day," said one of United in Service's parent co-organizers, Julee Haley. "Our family teams had really rewarding experiences with non-profits such as the Open Door and Northeast Arc. It's exciting to know that we'll be working with other great local organizations through October; we're looking forward to a great month of service."
"The rain actually worked in our favor," added co-organizer Abby Albrecht. "Our always-crowded card-making activity for Beverly Hospital picked up several additional families. Children of all ages had a great time in Shore's Dining Hall decorating thoughtful get-well cards for patients at the hospital." Families created nearly 200 cheerful messages for patients, as well as 400 tags for this season's Giving Tree at Shore, a yearly partnership with several North Shore charities to provide holiday presents for children who might not otherwise receive them.
Also in Shore's Dining Hall, children and parents worked together to package 150 "Plant Pal" kits to be donated to early education centers and afterschool programs in the area. "One of our goals at United Way is to ensure all children can enter school ready to learn, develop critical social and academic skills, and get the support they need to stay in school and graduate," said Sarah Bartley, Senior Director for Community Impact at United Way. "Thanks to Shore families and United In Service, we're able to provide hundreds of our youngest learners with educational activities and fun learning kits to take home."
Just across the street from Shore, a dedicated crew worked throughout the weekend at the new Beverly Children's Learning Center to construct a hardy outdoor shed for toys and tools. "Last year," said Lisa King, Director of Education and Children's Services, "Shore built garden boxes that have enhanced our science, math, nature, and cooking curriculum for all of our programs. This year they pitched in to help construct outdoor storage sheds that will help to keep our children’s toys, carriages, and maintenance equipment safe from the elements. We could not be more grateful for Shore families' generous contributions and dedication to our program!"
Meanwhile, 20 Shore volunteers braved the rain at the Food Project's newly planted 34-acre farm on Larch Row in Wenham, where they helped staff members dig more than 100 pounds of organic potatoes and prepare garlic cloves for storage. According to the Food Project's Volunteer Coordinator, Sarah Wiggins, "We really depend on volunteers like Shore families in our sustainable agriculture model, which yields healthy produce that is donated to hunger relief organizations, sold at
farmers’ markets in low-income neighborhoods, and sold through our
community supported agriculture programs."
Another 10 Shore volunteers partnered with Northeast Arc at a local residential home. "Parents, children and residents had a great time working together on fall crafts and decorating the house for Halloween," said Suzanne Ryan, Volunteer Coordinator for Northeast Arc. The Danvers-based organization helps people with disabilities become full participants in the communities north of Boston while also providing support for their families.
Shore volunteers will visit another Northeast Arc facility later in October, when they'll also work on behalf of non-profits including Backyard Growers, Plummer Home, Beverly Bootstraps, Family Promise, and Windrush Farms.
For Backyard Growers, teams of Shore families will travel around Gloucester to help prepare the organization's schoolyard gardens for winter. At the Plummer Home in Salem, families will plant bulbs and do general yard cleanup. With Family Promise, Shore volunteers will brighten children's spirits through face-painting as well as prepare dinners for families experiencing homelessness. Shore will return to Windrush Farm for a third time to improve and beautify this therapeutic horse facility. And on behalf of Beverly Bootstraps, they'll hold food drives at local grocery stores.
By the end of Shore's month of service, hundreds more hours of volunteer work will have been donated. "This is just the beginning," said United in Service co-organizer Julee Haley. "We're thrilled to have been able to expand Shore's commitment to the community and service learning throughout an entire month."
Shore's Upper School students regularly visit local organizations to complete service projects as part of the curriculum; now their families, too, have a host of new opportunities to join in that spirit of service.