Dozens of make-shift carnival games were painted, set up and ready to go at Nevin Park Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of a massive Back to School party.
Backpacks were stuffed with books and school supplies and ready to hand out to the children. Even the bouncy houses were open for business, and food stations were already churning out popcorn and snow cones.
But where were all the kids?
“They’re still on their way,” said Stacy Moffitt, community engagement specialist for Chevron Richmond, noting it was only 2 p.m. on a school day. “When you get engineers helping to put something together, things tend to be really efficient.”
Sure enough, hundreds of local school children would soon arrive to enjoy the cleverly-crafted carnival games that the Chevron employees helped paint and operate. The event was part of the company’s annual partnership with the nonprofit Bay Area Rescue Mission to get local children both prepared and excited for the new school year.
The Back to School party was considered a central event for Chevron’s Annual Volunteer Week, which continues through Saturday. Just over 470 Richmond Refinery employees are volunteering on about 40 projects throughout West Contra Costa County.
Among the projects, Chevron employees have also volunteered to serve meals to the homeless, build a small dog corral for the Milo Foundation’s Point Richmond adoption center, paint the wall around a basketball court at the North Richmond Project Pride Recreation Center, spruce up the SS Red Oak Victory and join a Richmond coastal cleanup for the Golden Gate Audubon Society.
Though the company encourages employees to contribute in the community year-round, Volunteer Week provides an opportunity for local schools and organizations to tap highly-skilled workers on significant projects, from solar installations on the homes of low-income families to landscaping and maintenance work at the Rescue Mission’s Richmond shelter.
“Giving back to the community is part of our jobs,” said Kory Judd, the Chevron Richmond Refinery General Manager, who read Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Thinks You Can Think to children at the Back to School party (pictured below). “And frankly it’s a lot of fun.”
Moffitt said her colleagues enjoy the break from their typical workday to engage with the community directly and to tackle new meaningful projects. It’s why hundreds of employees sign up to help year after year, she said. The proof could be seen at Nevin Park Tuesday, when eager Chevron employees finished preparing the backpacks and painting the carnival games long before any of the children arrived. When the kids finally did come, the employees were just as eager to show them a good time.
“Their investment in [the Back to School party] has been ramping up over the last seven years,” said John Anderson, CEO and president of the Rescue Mission. “They’ve been stuffing backpacks and preparing for this event for days.”