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President's message inspires parent volunteers to take action

Posted December 18, 2014
Parents Joe and Laurie Mercede volunteer at Cradles to Crayons as part of Johns Hopkins in Action: Philadelphia. Parents Joe and Laurie Mercede volunteer at Cradles to Crayons as part of Johns Hopkins in Action: Philadelphia.

A group of Philadelphia alumni, parents, and friends got some special holiday shopping in this past weekend. They weren’t at King of Prussia Mall, or their local Wal-Mart or Target. They were shopping for families in need at the Cradles to Crayons Giving Factory.

Cradles to Crayons works in Philadelphia and Boston to put essential items into the hands of homeless and low-income families. The Johns Hopkins team shopped through aisles of donations to create packages of coats, shoes, boots, school supplies, and other items that will keep families safe and warm this season. Volunteer teams from other organizations helped inspect and sort the new or gently used donations, adding to the all-hands-on-deck atmosphere at Cradles to Crayons.

The event was part of Johns Hopkins in Action, a community service program that pairs Johns Hopkins volunteers with local non-profits focused on areas of priority in the Rising to the Challenge campaign, including urban revitalization and school reform.

Community members have many different reasons for taking part in a Johns Hopkins in Action event. For parents Joe and Laurie Mercede, (P ’14, P ’15), it was an ideal way to be part of the Hopkins community, while bringing the vision of President Daniels to their hometown. “When our son Matthew received his early decision acceptance to Johns Hopkins in December 2009, we started to explore how we could become active in the Hopkins community and add value during our tenure as parents,” said Joe.

The couple soon became active participants in the Hopkins Parents’ Council and as supporters of the Rising to the Challenge campaign. “After attending the Johns Hopkins Leadership Summit in October 2014, and learning more about the campaign initiatives, we wanted to do something to help the Johns Hopkins Institute for the American City,” he recalled. “Johns Hopkins in Action Philadelphia at Cradles to Crayons was one of the ways that we, as Hopkins parents, could support President Daniels’ message.”

That message of community engagement is resonating. Now in its second year, Johns Hopkins in Action has reached five cities, both US coasts, hosted an event in Hong Kong, and attracted some 300 volunteers to an annual multi-site event in Baltimore. The 2015 Johns Hopkins in Action Baltimore day of service is scheduled for May 2. On that day, volunteers will be out in full force to clean up blighted parks, clear debris from streams, and make lunches for the homeless. As Joe says, these events bring “inspiration and understanding” to those of us who are more fortunate than our neighbors. And that is a message that can motivate many.