WILKES-BARRE — Rich Kutz, director of the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, said the Commission on Economic Opportunity needs about 2,000 boxed meals to provide to needy seniors in the Wyoming Valley each month.
It was Public Service Day on Monday, and about two dozen employees from the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs were busy packing food boxes for the needy seniors. Boxes were stuffed with items such as cereal, juice, soup and other non-perishable food goods.
Thanks to the help, the food bank is close to meeting its monthly quota — it was estimated that about 800 boxes were packed and ready to go by Monday afternoon. The group still had a few hours left when that estimation was made.
Kutz called the group of Mohegan Sun employees a “super” group, and said the relatively large brigade of volunteers was productive.
“We’re really happy when businesses allow their employees to come in on a work day to help out an organization such as ours,” he said. “It’s an amazing help.”
Kara Fox-LaRose, assistant general manager of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, said this was the first time casino employees have worked hands-on with CEO. Maria Zangardi, director of human resources for the casino, explained that the casino worked with the United Way to determine which nonprofit needed the most help.
“They sent us a list of organizations, and CEO was one that we had seen that we know when the school year is out and the college students aren’t here anymore, they can really use the help,” Zangardi said.
Fox-LaRose and Zangardi were on Monday’s assembly line, working hand-in-hand with other employees from the game floor, security and human resource departments. Zangardi could be found stuffing pears into the boxes, a job she took a lot of pride in.
“The pears are good for me — I know right where they go, I slip them in there and I’m good to go,” Zangardi said.
Fox-LaRose said the group would continue packing food boxes until they ran out of boxes to fill. They both also expressed that companies like the Mohegan Sun should give back to the community.
“The community has welcomed us so much coming to the area,” Zangardi said. “It’s important to not only give through donations, which Mohegan Sun does, but also our time and our abilities and our strengths, if we can do it.”
Kutz stressed that organizations like CEO rely on volunteers, and without them, making quotes like the 2,000 boxes each month would be increasingly difficult. Fox-LaRose said the staff members will probably return next year for Public Service Day — the team might even come back sooner to help.
“Now that we see really what it takes to make this happen, no doubt about it,” she said. “We’ve already told them to call upon us if they ever find themselves in a bind before our next visit.”