The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone in some way over the last year, and Margaret Venturi wanted her local office to do their part to help those in need. Venturi, who is the Vice President/Sales Manager of the Vineland Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors, organized a canned food drive this month to benefit the children of Vineland Public Schools.
“As realtors, we always sell the dream of home ownership,” Venturi said. “In today’s times it wouldn’t be right of us to have the youngest and most vulnerable go hungry when their parents are working so hard and the economic situation is what it is. It’s the least we can do to serve our community.”
Venturi came up with the idea after seeing a story highlighting the effects that food instability has on children. In the news report, a young girl was on a Zoom call fidgeting, and when asked by her teacher what was wrong, the child burst into tears and explained she hadn’t eaten. The child’s mother was laid off during the pandemic and was struggling to get government assistance.
After seeing the story, Venturi first brought the idea to the agents in her Vineland office and then to her company, who followed suit. Each sales office in the region began holding food drives to benefit their local communities, and the food quickly began coming in.
“We started about two weeks ago,” she said. “People have been coming by every day during business hours dropping food off.”
Many local businesses, including Pediatric Associates, Bottino’s ShopRite, Larry’s II, and many local doctor’s offices, donated food and gift cards. Many ordered food online anonymously and had it dropped off, and many gave donations in honor of others. In addition, nearly $1000 in gift cards were donated, including $500 from community benefactor Gail.
“I’m so grateful for all of this,” Venturi said. “This was an entire community effort.”
Venturi also wished to honor local community activist Pearl Giordano, who recently passed away.
“This drive is dedicated in her honor,” Venturi said. “We hope to continue to carry out her good deeds.”
The food was distributed between approximately 160 boxes, which will be divided and sent to each school in the district, according to Dr. Mary Gruccio, Superintendent of Schools. They will all arrive for distribution before students leave for the spring break holiday. Members of the Landis Administration Building also put together and donated sixty Easter baskets packed with spring goodies, which will be shared with elementary and preschool students.
“We are so grateful that they took the time to do this for our families,” Gruccio said. “These are such unprecedented times and things like this are needed more than ever. We will be able to help a lot of people during the holidays.”
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