Just Born employees and their children are paying it forward today to remember Martin Luther King Jr.
"It's a really nice day to do something to keep his vision alive," said Carol Saeger, volunteer program leader for Just Born Inc. in Bethlehem.
Three employees of Just Born, the well-known Peeps candy manufacturer in Bethlehem, are spending today painting the bathrooms of a local nonprofit social services center in Bethlehem. The employees' children have given up the day off from school to join their parents in giving back to Northeast Ministry, a nonprofit social service agency that provides a variety of assistance to the nearby Marvine Pembroke low-income housing development, which consists of 750 households.
"We have a very strong relationship with Just Born, and I feel very fortunate that we are the place they have decided to give their time," said Ann Gibson, executive director of Northeast Ministry. "Having a building that looks nice and is well presented makes the people we serve feel important and shows them that we care."
Northeast Ministry is a neighbor to Just Born, as the facilities are within seconds of each other. The agency provides a variety of services, including an after-school homework club for children of the low-income housing development, a food bank once a month and a seven-week summer club for children.
"Because they are in our backyard, we have adopted them," Saeger said. "Just Born is very community- minded, and it's great for us to be able to help Northeast Ministry as much as we can."
Throughout the year, the company provides donations and volunteer services to Northeast Ministry, including a Valentine luncheon to the senior citizens of the housing development and a Thanksgiving turkey drive, feeding more than 250 families last year. Also, it adopts five families each year to provide gifts and food at Christmas.
The Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem, serves as a liaison for businesses that wish to provide community service to nonprofits in the region. The center works with nearly 75 businesses and organizes volunteer projects for nearly 400 nonprofits throughout the Lehigh Valley.
"The companies in the Lehigh Valley are fantastic about giving back to the community," said Priscilla Schueck, CEO of the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley. "It's a great team-building opportunity for companies, as well as a benefit to the nonprofits in the community."