Photo of student volunteers getting ready for a cleanout project

80 Volunteers, 7 Sites, 1 Great Day

Spring into Action 2023 was a great success! We asked volunteers to choose one or two words to describe their experience. “Fun” was the first word many of them came up with. Next were “fulfilling,” “meaningful,” and similar terms to describe how good it feels to help others.

“We’ve been running an annual volunteer day for years, originally with our A.C. Moore employees and community members,” said Pepe Piperno, founder and CEO. “Being on site to do needed tasks really gets people engaged with the great work of our community partners.”

The event on April 22 started with breakfast at Cathedral Kitchen. In her welcome speech, Elena described her first volunteer service in Camden at age 6, delivering food baskets at Sacred Heart. We had to agree with one volunteer who said that one of the best parts of the day was “seeing a new, younger generation of volunteers willing and so eager to help others.”

After breakfast, the 80 volunteers spread out to tackle projects with 7 community partners. Here’s what they accomplished:

photo of volunteers making sandwiches
  • Made over 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hundreds of colorful placemats for guests at Cathedral Kitchen
  • Painted doors and landscaped the grounds at Heart of Camden
  • Served lunch to 50 guests at Joseph’s House of Camden
  • Did landscaping and spring cleaning at LUCY Outreach
  • Gardened, organized, cleaned, and baked treats for guests at Ronald McDonald House
  • Prepped 19 garden beds for community planting at Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Center
  • Cleared out a former school building—filling a whole dumpster!—to ready it for construction as new housing by St. Joseph Carpenter Society 

Asked what was the best thing about their experience, one volunteer said, “The ability to engage with, and learn from, the incredible people who devote their daily lives to helping the most vulnerable residents in our community.”

photo of children having fun on a swing

A highlight of the day for Elena Piperno, director, was meeting a young patient from Palestine and her father at Ronald McDonald House. “She was playing with my nieces. It was beautiful to see her laugh and have fun like a normal kid—taking a break from her medical routine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.” 

Sister Bonnie of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Center summed up the reactions of the community partners who benefited from volunteers’ efforts: “We are so grateful to the volunteers for their cheerful service, strong muscles, and expert gardening advice. They assisted us in caring for the Earth by preparing our 19 community garden beds for planting. Our neighbors are signing up for the garden beds and are eager to begin planting!”

Enjoy these photos of our Spring into Action volunteers at work (and play)!