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Nearly one in four residents of Philadelphia—including almost 135,000 children—live in poverty. That’s the highest rate among the nation’s 10 largest cities, and the economic effects of the pandemic are making the issue even more pronounced, according to Michal Smith, executive director of Cradles to Crayons.
Demand this year has skyrocketed by more than 150% at the organization, which provides children in need with the essential items necessary to thrive at home, at school, and at play. “The need for basic supplies, along with diapers, wipes, and activity kits has been overwhelming,” Smith said.
A decade of partnership
That’s why key supporters such as Trident Insurance Agency (TIA), part of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach/Trident (BHHS FR/T), are so important. TIA, which serves the Delaware Valley, has been working with Cradles to Crayons since 2010—when the nonprofit helped turbo-charge BHHS FR/T’s annual Backpack Challenge.
“Our partnership with Cradles to Crayons has enabled us to help so many more children,” said TIA president Christopher L. Rosati. “It’s been beyond successful, year after year.” All 75 agency employees are involved in activities such as the yearly Backpack-A-Thon, which last year filled 30,000 backpacks with school supplies for kids in just two hours.
‘Every child deserves the basic necessities to feel safe and ready to achieve.’
Christopher L. Rosati, Trident Insurance Agency president
“The Cradles to Crayons model and mission has been embraced by our staff,” Rosati said. “Anytime they need help, they call on us to assist—and we’re thrilled to help.”
It’s a total team effort that isn’t limited to the agency: Sales associates and employees from the entire BHHS FR/T organization also volunteer and donate to Cradles to Crayons.
“The people at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach/Trident have been incredible, both before and during this pandemic,” Smith said. “They have challenged themselves to support our Ready for Learning program, and we have been able to provide learning supplies to over 25,000 children so they are ready to learn—in whatever form that takes.”
A giving culture
That commitment goes all the way to the top of the company. “We are dedicated to helping our communities and stepping up at every turn,” Rosati said. “Management has made this a part of our culture; we place great importance on giving back.”
The company has an annual “Community Service Day” where offices are closed so employees can serve in the community, and an “Employee Volunteer Day” that allows staff paid time off to volunteer. TIA team members have helped build playgrounds, held food and clothing drives, tutored children, and more.
A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help broaden that impact. The honor includes a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco for Cradles to Crayons on behalf of Trident Insurance Agency.
And with so much up in the air this fall, that money is vital. “As families struggle to avoid necessities like food and rent, spending an average of $320 a year on school supplies is unrealistic,” Smith said. “Access to these essentials will require financial support.”
That knowledge helps keep TIA employees motivated, Rosati added. “Every child deserves the basic necessities to feel safe and ready to achieve.”