It doesn’t take much to help people – just the desire to be a positive force for change, some motivation and a little free food. Thanks to that winning combination, my Sodexo nutrition team worked with the students, faculty, staff and administration at the Rancocas Valley Regional School District in Mt. Holly, New Jersey to collect mittens, hats and scarves for people in the community at a special event called Meals For Mittens.
As the name suggests, the Meals For Mittens program entices members of the community to donate much-needed winter hats, scarves and mittens by offering them a free and delicious Italian feast for every donation. Sodexo hangs clotheslines in the cafeteria and anyone donating is given a clothes pin to hang their winter accessories on the line.
After coming up with the idea for the event, I spoke with my staff to see if they would be interested in volunteering their time for a good cause. They loved it and were excited to get involved, so we then approached the high school’s student activity director and the student council and everyone enthusiastically embraced the event.
On the night of the big event, students and Sodexo staff members worked together to serve the free meals and were able to personally thank everyone making a generous donation. The special menu for the event included lots of pasta, delicious meatballs, warm breadsticks, fresh garden salad and yummy desserts.
Although everyone loved the food, the real highlight of the event was seeing the clotheslines filled with warm clothing, knowing that these simple items will make the long New Jersey winter a whole lot more bearable for people in our own community. The event was a success and we were able to collect 114 pairs of gloves and mittens, 87 winter hats and 26 scarves!
The program was such a hit that we are already planning to do it again next year and we are looking for ways to make it bigger and better. We’ve even been talking to other school districts in the area about adopting the program.
Have you been involved with some really great and unique charitable events? If so, please tell us about them. In the meantime, the entire hardworking team at Sodexo wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.
Margaret Happe is a general manager for Sodexo Education.