Three local entities received big checks during the holiday season.
Operation Yellow Ribbon, St. Joan of Arc Parish and School, and the Evesham Township Police Department (ETPD) were the beneficiaries of donations from Pat McKenna Realtors, presented Dec. 23 outside the donor’s Main Street headquarters.
“As one of the few industries not being stricken by COVID-19, we feel incredibly fortunate to have had a tremendous year in the real estate business, and we want to give some of it back to (some) of our community’s most impactful groups of people,” said Dalton Lanoza, listing manager for Pat McKenna Realtors.
Since December, the mother and son team of Eleanor and Mark McKenna rallied staff to raise funds for the community, coming up with $34,000 when it was time to parcel out the donations.
“The decision to donate to our local causes was an easy one,” Eleanor said. “Evesham PD tirelessly works to keep us safe, St. Joan of Arc is a beacon of light for Evesham Township, and Operation Yellow Ribbon is a wonderful organization that supports our military heroes overseas. They deserve everything we can give and more!”
The Realtors took a break in the day to rally around the presentation’s beneficiaries, with $14,500 donated to both the police department and St. Joan of Arc, while military charity Operation Yellow Ribbon received $5,000.
“We hope that these donations aid in supplanting some of the funding that has been lost due to unfortunate circumstances, like annual fundraising events being cancelled,” Lanoza explained.
The donations will go a long way in helping the community.
The police department will use the funds for a community policing program that helps law enforcement remain engaged with residents to foster trust and familiarity.
Both David Silver of Operation Yellow Ribbon and Monsignor Richard LaVerghetta of St. Joan of Arc were on hand Dec. 23 to accept their checks with gratitude, while Police Chief Christopher Chew and several of his fellow officers stopped by the Realtors’ Main Street office later to express their thanks.
Silver explained that sending out care packages as often and as thoughtfully packaged as those Operation Yellow Ribbon’s volunteers dispatch to troops overseas is a tremendously worthwhile endeavor, but also an expensive one.
“We spend over $50,000 a year on postage and over $100,000 a year on the care package supplies, so every penny means something to us, as we are 100 percent all-volunteer,” he noted.
With the example of a care package container in hand, Silver spoke of how each donation helps boost the morale of soldiers with favorite treats and snacks from home.
“Absolutely every penny goes to our mission of boosting morale of U.S. service members of all branches from every state in the U.S. who are deployed to the Middle East,” he explained. “The funds are either used to purchase the care package items themselves from ShopRite or to pay for the postage with USPS.”
The Realtors’ donation, Silver added, is extra appreciated since, as Lanoza observed, Operation Yellow Ribbon’s fundraising has been adversely affected by the pandemic.
“It’s not often when someone steps up as much as they do and keeps the help here at home and local,, where it circles back and continues to help, which leads to more people and organizations in Marlton being successful in whatever they are striving to achieve, be it education, sports, or nonprofit work,” Silver observed. “The McKenna Realtors family and team are truly a star in the sky of Evesham.”
But for Eleanor, it’s simply giving back to the community that was there for her family in their time of need decades ago.
“In 1978, my husband Pat and I started Pat McKenna Realtors … In 1984, he tragically passed, leaving me a widow with three boys to take care of,” she recalled. “It was the Marlton community that helped lift me up in those troubling times, and I am very proud to say that over 40 years later, our bond with the lovely residents of Marlton remains strong.”