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O'Toole Scrivo employees at Table of Hope, a Morristown-based food pantry and community kitchen. (Photo: O'Toole Scrivo).

The O’Toole Chronicles: Giving Back

By Kevin O'Toole, June 28 2022 12:01 am

As things start to edge back to normal, emerging out of the Covid pandemic, we thought it wise to run a  survey with the employees at our law firm to better understand their changing mindsets. Understanding that a tragedy like Covid can significantly change a person, we wanted to try and understand the state of mind of our employees and align management with the needs and wants of our valued employees. In the end, we realized that this last 2 years has made many of us very different people and the remarkable changes were put to some great use—why waste lessons learned in a once in a lifetime disaster.

(Photo: O’Toole Scrivo).

As we sent out our survey, we waited with some anticipation and then read the feedback. Needless to say, it was enlightening and beyond interesting to read the submissions, some expected and some unexpected.

While many in the firm have always had a giving spirit, it appears that the two-plus years in this period sharpened their focus on the needs of these less fortunate. Too bad it takes a horrible disaster to get this benevolent yield.

Many employees suggested that we contribute money to the poor, create college scholarships for the needy, volunteer at a hospital or shelter. The most popular submission was that we dedicate a day of giving whereby everyone would volunteer or work a day at a charity or special event. And we did just that.

On a designated day, most of our employees found themselves working at a nearby food shelter or pantry, animal shelter or helping construct and rehabilitate homes, or helping a not for profit with some routine missions.

Places we interacted with on our Day of Giving on June 9th-

  • Table of Hope in Morristown—our folks stocked shelves, loaded cars with groceries and assisted with food distribution.
  • Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter in East Hanover- our pet loving employees partook in dog and cat socializing, cleanup, and storage. One lucky dog was adopted by one of our attorneys!
  • Morris Habitat for Humanity- painting and landscaping, and some fixing of a sump pump were the chores of the day.
  • Nourish in Morristown- we helped in the kitchen and aided with food distribution.
  • Catholic Charities- our employees help clean out a Veterans Donation room, cleaned out a food pantry, helped the over worked administrative staff and helped organize office space.

Just some of the activity of the day.

After a day in the field, each of the participating employees came back excited, humbled, grateful, and asking to repeat this exercise yearly. What is going on here?

(Photo: O’Toole Scrivo).

Again, while we have long been involved in donating to so many worthy causes a year, and as of late, we had a keen interest in raising dollars for many food banks across this country, few of us actually spent a full day working for these amazing places of giving and charity.

What a difference a day makes, and this hands on giving is recommended for all. It is one level of giving to write a check, but it is a whole different level when you spend real time sharing the experience of giving with your fellow human beings.

If you haven’t spent a day at these phenomenal places of kinetic giving, you don’t know what you are missing. Witnessing the dedication of the modestly paid workers or volunteers is akin to earning a merit badge on the human condition. Seeing up close and personal the suffering of many and the laid bare and the peeling back of a certain dignity of our fellow human beings as they lined up for basic food necessities is very difficult to view and absorb. Among other questions raised at that moment is the one “how can a very advanced state and country have this level of poverty, need and neglect?” The sad truth is that when you look closely enough you find that this type of suffering has existed for as many years as we have walked this planet.

The point of this column is to highlight the good that pivoted out of a pandemic. Our firm isn’t all that special as we joined many other companies and individuals who have turned up the giving after living with 24 months of shutdowns and panic. Many of us are much more in tune with the basic needs of our neighbor and it is high time more step up to assist.

(Photo: O’Toole Scrivo).

You might ask what I did on this day—I was able to visit my alma mater, Cedar Grove High School, and I was able to personally hand out five scholarships for $5,000.00 each to qualified high school seniors heading to college. Watching the spontaneous joy and jubilation of the five students as their names were being called was worth any price. OS has pledged $100K in scholarships and we will probably do a bit more.

This has been a trying time for all of us, but we all should take stock in those in our community that need a bit of a boost.

At the end of the day, I reflected back and thought that this day of giving wasn’t really so much a giving to others as it was a giving to ourselves. The unmistakable hold that embraces your being as you partake in this giving was a giving to oneself, a giving of a peace, a giving of a humanity and a giving and receiving of a goodness that lasts a lifetime.

If you haven’t tried it, please do so.

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