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South Shore charities benefit from
Blue Cross Blue Shield service day

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 20, 2011 12:17 PM

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Over 3,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts employees are providing community service to dozens of organizations across the state today, in the first ever All-Company Service Day.

It’s all in an effort to give back to the community, and the 15,000 hours of community service given to 30 organizations is guaranteed to make a difference in many lives across the state.

One of those organizations is Cradles to Crayons. At the Blue Cross outposts in Hingham and Quincy, volunteers will help process and package thousands of donated items for distribution to children through the Brighton-based organization.

Interfaith Social Services Inc., of Quincy, will also receive aid from Blue Cross’s Service Day.

Speaking of the statewide initiative, Blue Cross Blue Shield spokeswoman Jenna McPhee said: “What we really wanted to do is not only mark a tradition for Blue Cross, but have a sustainable and positive impact on the organizations we support on an annual basis. We’re trying to do as much as we could in one day.”

It’s a plan that has taken over a year to conceive and implement, and one that has delivered busloads of people to organizations throughout Massachusetts in an effort to make a difference.

“It’s 15,000 hours of service in one day, which is what we typically do in a year,” McPhee said. “It’s one day to make a tremendous impact in a powerful way all working together as one.”

In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino will take part in the campaign, and will volunteer alongside Blue Cross President and CEO Andrew Dreyfus at the recently consolidated King K-8 School in Dorchester to paint murals throughout the building.

In the Cradles to Crayons program, all orders are packed for a specific child, and all goods were donated to the program through local families and individuals.

Social service agents who place the orders for specific children will then pick up the KidPacks from the Giving Factory to distribute them to children throughout the South Shore.

According to McPhee, Blue Cross has long worked with the organization, which is constantly in need of supplies and clothing for those in need.

It’s help much appreciated by Cradles to Crayons staff, who say children more than ever are in need of their services.

“It is our back to school system, and cure up for winter season. There are over 300 children living in poverty or low income in Massachusetts, so we’re trilled to be able to make an impact in the lives of local kids,” said Jen White, director of development for Cradles to Crayons.

With the help of Blue Cross volunteers, the organization will help a total of 10,000 children throughout the South Shore – giving 4,000 arts and crafts kits to needy children, and giving 4,000 head to toe packs of socks, underwear and hygene items out as well.

More people are in the group’s Boston headquarters, sorting clothes, coats, and boots as the cold weather sets in.

“This is what it’s all about …The idea of connecting resources to those who don’t have it,” White said. “focus is helping children’s lives and that’s what the local kids need.”

At Interfaith Social Services in Quincy, volunteers will remodel the food pantry, clean, paint, and reorganize the waiting rooms, paint the reception area and offices, clean and reorganize the basement (which houses the Career Closet and toy shop), and sort items in the thrift shop.

Volunteers also plan to clean and sweep exterior parts of the building, and weed the garden that is part of the Harvest Helpers program.

It’s work the organization otherwise wouldn’t have time or capabilities to do, said Rick Doane, the executive director of Interfaith.

“A lot of our volunteers are older people, who can’t do the heavy lifting or more intensive jobs…so I can't stress enough how much this has helped us, and how much better we can serve our clients because of their help today,” Doane said. “We could not have done this without Blue cross.”

Not only is the event exciting for each organization individually, but Doane recognized that the difference the day was making overall was staggering.

“We were a beneficiary this year, but I’m excited for all the nonprofits that will benefit over the years. This is unprecedented the level of help we’re receiving,” Doane said.

Overall, from Boston to Worcester to Plymouth, the day should have a tremendous impact, an impact that Blue Cross hopes to continue for years to come.

“As we embark on our 75th anniversary, we wanted to have something that would have a lasting impact on the community,” McPhee said. “We’ve had a long tradition of giving back, but service day is all about that commitment to create sustainable and positive change.”

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