By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
After a busy summer of selling real estate, Stacey Burns finally got to spend her first day on the beach Thursday.
But she wasn’t wearing a bathing suit or flip-flops. Rubber gloves were more like it. She was also carrying a large trash bag as she slowly made her way along the beach and dunes, picking up discarded plastic and other trash littering Sea Isle City’s shoreline.
“Anytime you get a chance to help the community and keep it beautiful, it’s a great thing,” said Burns, who lives in Ocean View.
Burns, a sales agent for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors in Sea Isle, was joined by other employees from the real estate company for a community cleanup day.
The company also has a volunteer program to lend a hand to churches, food banks, daycare centers and other community hubs in some of the towns and cities where its offices are located, including Sea Isle.
Now in its 24th year, the company’s Community Service Day involved cleaning up the beaches and dunes in Sea Isle’s downtown area and donating food to the Holy Redeemer Jersey Shore Food Pantry in Swainton for families in need.
Holy Redeemer’s Jersey Shore Food Pantry has been serving the local community since 1989, when the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer organized the pantry as an extension of Holy Redeemer’s home care services, according to its website.
“To see it in full bloom like that was heartwarming. There are so many volunteers,” Carol Hopely Russo, who heads the BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors office in Sea Isle, said of Holy Redeemer’s efforts to feed the hungry.
Community Service Day is one in a series of special events and projects organized by BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors and the employees each year to show their commitment to the areas they serve. Thousands of employees from other offices of BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors take part in the day of volunteerism.
“It’s a very nice thing to do to show that you’re interested in your community. I think everyone likes to contribute to the well-being of the community,” said Alice Utkus, a sales agent who lives in Sea Isle.
The company’s sales agents and other employees also make donations to the Fox & Roach/Trident Charities, a charitable foundation. Over the years, $6.6 million has been donated to help more than 250 nonprofit organizations, according to company literature.
Although it is an upscale resort town featuring multimillion-dollar beachfront homes, Sea Isle also has families that struggle financially and can’t always afford to buy food. To help them out, BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors will now place a food basket in its office year-round to collect donations for the Holy Redeemer pantry, Hopely Russo said.
Last year, sales agents and other employees from the Sea Isle office spent a sun-soaked fall day pulling weeds, raking leaves and doing other cleanup work at United Methodist Church.
On Thursday, they braved damp and dreary weather while fanning out on the beaches and dunes for the cleanup.
“We couldn’t have picked a nicer day, huh?” Eileen Capriotti joked as the winds whipped on the beach. “Well, at least it’s not raining like it was.”
Capriotti was joined on the 40th Street beach by fellow BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors sales agents Stacey Burns, Natalie Stetser and Victor Foschini.
For Capriotti, the cleanup day was particularly special because it gave her an opportunity to help keep her hometown beaches attractive.
“It’s a great thing to keep our community beautiful,” said Capriotti, a Sea Isle resident since 1999.
Burns, who joined BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors last year, was participating in her first company cleanup. Despite the less than ideal weather Thursday, she was happy to finally be able to get out on the beach for the first time this year.
“Usually, I would be on my computer,” she said of being in the office, looking for sales.