Merritt Groupers kicked off the season of giving on Tuesday with a trip to Head Start, a branch of Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) early education program. The Head Start program is designed to promote school readiness in low-income children ages 3 to 5, who may otherwise find themselves behind their peers in preparedness once they reach kindergarten. Through educational, health, nutritional, social and other services, Head Start enhances the cognitive development of the children who participate.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the team headed into the classrooms with crafts and stories to get everyone in the holiday spirit. After a rousing reading of Just A Special Thanksgiving by Mercer Mayer around the “campfire,” it was time to get down to business. Armed with paper bags, construction paper feathers and plenty of glue sticks, Merritt Groupers got to work helping the 3-to-5-year-olds build their own turkey puppets.
“Materials went flying everywhere almost immediately as the kids dove into the projects – and it was fabulous! Having the opportunity to see their creativity blossom was incredibly rewarding, and I can’t wait to participate in the next Merritt Group NVFS event,” said Melissa Chadwick, VP of content.
After the flurry of feathers, glue and crayons settled down, a chorus of “gobble, gobble, gobble” soon filled the air and wild turkeys could be seen parading through the classrooms. Before long, it was hard to tell whether the kids or the Merritt Groupers were enjoying the morning more. When it was time to say goodbye, it was easy to see why programs like Head Start, and all the services provided by NVFS, really matter.
The event was just one of many volunteer time off (VTO) activities that Merritt Group sets up for employees over the year. Each quarter, staff gets paid time off for giving back to the community – whether it’s through activities set up by Merritt (like NVFS) or supporting employees volunteering on their own time.
“Crafting, reading and playing with the children at NVFS Head Start was such a great way to start our day,” said account coordinator, Katherine Nanney. “When I was on the job hunt, Merritt Group’s volunteer time off policy is something that really stood out to me, as most other companies don’t take such a hands-on approach to their corporate social responsibility initiatives.”
With glue on our hands and smiles on our faces, it was a chance for Merritt Groupers to take a step away from the often chaotic environment of agency life and give back to the community in a way that was both fun and rewarding.