Our staff has really been motivated and encouraged to give back this holiday, so we decided not to do a traditional holiday gathering and volunteer a very precious commodity – time!

We began our Staff Service Day at Parkwood Elementary in sneakers and running clothes  to volunteer with Playworks. Playworks is a program that supports learning by providing safe, healthy and inclusive play and physical activity to schools at recess and throughout the entire school day. We had a brief chat with Parkwood Principal Michael Somers and he said the program has made a tremendous impact on the children inside and outside of the classroom. Playworks is currently in nine Durham schools.

Chamber staff had the opportunity to interact with kids in kindergarten through 4th grade playing games and activities such as Move your Feet, Four Square, double dutch, and soccer. Our last recess was with 5th graders and they came out with a roar for kickball! Lots of high fives, thumbs up, pats on the back and cheers were given. Who would have thought a day on the playground would have been that much fun – not just for the kids but for us too!

Next, we headed over to meet with The Salvation Army’s Director of Social Services, Debbie Avolin. She was busy coordinating  donations for the Salvation Army Angel Tree in an unheated warehouse full of warm souls. Why were they so happy? A local church had just shopped for 300 kids as Angel Tree sponsorsThrough these generous donations, needy families can provide their children with gifts. This holiday season, over 1,500 kids will have gifts to open on Christmas morning.  Any collected toys that were not pre-assigned to a family are sorted by age group and given to some of the 80 families on the wait list.

Our last was a stop SEEDS (South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces) – a non-profit  whose goal is to teach people to care for the earth, themselves and each other through a variety of garden-based programs. Executive Director, Emily Egge, gave us a personal tour of the gardens and a history of the organization. The Southside Garden includes community garden plots tended by the local neighborhood. There is also a cut-flower garden cultivated by DIG youth for the Durham Farmers’ Market, composting facilities, a medicinal herb garden, a permaculture pond, an outdoor classroom, an 8-panel mural on a neighboring abandoned warehouse wall, and an outdoor art gallery.

The Durham Chamber of Commerce wants to thank all of our non-profit members for the work that they do in our Durham community! We look forward to the next service day!

By the way, be sure to check out photos from our Service Day on our Facebook page!