It is typical around this time of year for MooreKids to help facilitate a costume exchange at the Moorestown Library. Shortly after that, they usually organize their teen volunteers to help with the township Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
But COVID-19 has thrown quite the wrench into the nonprofit’s typical volunteer efforts. Jennifer Brinkman, one of the founders and board members of MooreKids, said the organization is now seeking new ways to help and is putting the word out to the community that if local nonprofits or charitable groups need volunteers, MooreKids is ready to help.
The nonprofit’s mission is to help financially disadvantaged kids by paying the fees associated with extracurriculars, enabling them to participate in sports, music, art or other activities. Brinkman said the organization’s overarching goal is to level the playing field and give students equal access to extracurricular activities.
When COVID-19 hit, MooreKids was in the midst of planning two fundraisers, one for spring and the other for fall. Both events have been cancelled.
Instead, MooreKids organized a different kind of fundraiser by selling “Ribbons of Gratitude.” For $10, Moorestown residents could buy a ribbon in the town’s colors (black and yellow) to foster a sense of town spirit, show their support for essential workers and raise funds.
Given that most sports and clinics were shut down, MooreKids refocused its fundraising efforts toward those with the greatest need and decided the money would go toward Moorestown’s three food pantries: First Baptist Church, Bethel AME and Live Civilly/Moorestown Ministerium (St Matthew Church). MooreKids ultimately raised more than $6,000 for the pantries.
MooreKids draws a team of teens to its volunteer opportunities throughout the year. This year saw the highest number of teens sign up to date, with more than 65 agreeing to help out. In a typical year, the MooreKids team consists of around 25 students, but Brinkman thinks that with so many sports and other activities cancelled, students are eager to get involved in other ways.
Throughout the winter, the teenagers would usually serve as mentors for the Moorestown Department of Parks and Recreation’s special needs sports clinics. But with that volunteer opportunity off the table as a result of COVID, the nonprofit is looking for new outreach opportunities for the teens.
“We decided to shift the focus of our mission, and open up our mission a little bit and simply provide as many safe opportunities for community service events as possible,” Brinkman said.
She has spoken with local nonprofits, community and governmental organizations to see where the teens could help. While typically focused on its own mission, MooreKids has pivoted toward the missions of other organizations.
Thus far, the nonprofit has helped collect food at the Community House of Moorestown’s drive-through food collection to benefit Moorestown Ministerium/Live Civilly Food Pantry at St Matthew Church; taken the Halloween costume swap to a virtual format in support of Jaclyn Barnes’ Project Night Night campaign; and provided new pajamas, books, stuffed animals and throw blankets for children in homeless shelters.
Looking ahead, MooreKids is discussing how to best serve the community, exploring the possibility of doing trail and park cleanups as well as hosting a food drive of its own to benefit Moorestown’s three food pantries.
“We welcome the opportunity to help support other nonprofits and organizations in our community,” Brinkman noted.
Meanwhile, the organization is also brainstorming fundraising activities for its own mission so that if sports and other extracurricular activities reopen safely, MooreKids can once again sponsor Moorestown student participation.
To get in contact with MooreKids regarding volunteer opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.