By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the past three years, Philadelphia-based mega law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has hosted a week of pro bono and community service, called “Impact Week.”
The effort crosses the firm’s two dozen offices worldwide, involving Morgan Lewis attorneys, staff, and their families and friends.
“We have great people — they respond to the call,” says Gordon Cooney, managing partner of the Philadelphia office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius. He says Impact Week, which culminates in a day of volunteering, includes food, clothing, school supplies, book drives, and more to help the community.
This year’s event included more than 200 volunteers, spread across a myriad of projects.
“We have three primary areas that we focus on with respect to our community service program: education, helping people re-enter the workforce, and the environment,” says Cooney. “The area where we’re most actively involved is education.”
And the list of efforts in education is broad. It includes tutoring programs, continued support of a City Year team, and pro bono legal work.
And this year, the firm recently partnered with Sheppard Elementary School, in West Kensington. Cooney says lawyers will begin tutoring students from the school this fall, but in the meantime discovered they had a problem.
“We learned they had a library with no books. We decided to fix that,” Cooney says. “During the course of a week and a half, we collected 34 boxes of books and other education materials.”
When Morgan Lewis partner Erica Smith-Klocek got the call, she took to Facebook and reached out to neighbors.
“Within a couple of days, my porch was full of books,” she says. She says her neighbor who works at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr also reached out to help. “They were cleaning out some of their books and were able to donate more than 25 boxes of textbooks, workbooks, and other supplies that Sheppard could use.”
The total raised for Impact Week book drive: nearly 60 boxes. Volunteers then sorted the books and delivered them to the Sheppard School, helping the staff create a real library.
“We are thrilled beyond imagination,” says James Otto, who has served as principal at Sheppard for ten years and is retiring in a few days. “They showed up with several cars filled to the walls with hundreds of books. They were sorted by grade level, and then they came in and put them on the shelves!”
Otto says the school hasn’t had a library in more than a decade, largely because school district funding for the school librarian was cut years ago. He says no librarian means no money for library books for the 290 students at the school, which serves kids in kindergarten through fourth grade.
“There just isn’t any money — there’s barely any money for essentials,” says Otto, “so for somebody to show up with this many items for the kids — all organized — is just amazing.”
For more on Morgan Lewis’ community service, go to morganlewis.com.
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