CAMDEN, NJ—Members of the Philadelphia 76ers Dunk Squad were back-flipping and spinning on the stage inside of the U.S. Wiggins Family School cafeteria Friday afternoon.
They were performing for more than 150 volunteers from the Philadelphia 76ers, Virtua and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey on a lunch break from cleaning and beautifying the Wiggins school grounds as part of the fourth annual Project 76 Day.
"This is one that we do every summer. We come together with their staff as a team, and our staff as a team and work side-by-side for a day of service," said Amy Hever, executive director of community engagement for the 76ers. "We're helping to just clean the school from the end of the year, help get it ready for the start of the new year and help gear it up as well."
Volunteers worked all morning painting the schools hallways and basketball courts, installing basketball nets, cleaning up and beautifying the schools exterior by painting murals and landscaping the schools garden and playground.
"We really feel as though its an extension of our greater mission — 'Be well, get well and stay well,'" said Virtua Chief Operating Officer Al Campanella. "Today has been spectacular. We have 150 people here, we have them painting, they are working to beautify the gardens outside, they are freshening up the playground, its fantastic. Its 100 degrees today, its sunny, its hot, they’re drinking a lot of water, but there is a smile on their faces and they want to be here."
Jeanne Hendricks, a registered dietitian at Virtua, has volunteered for Project 76 day for three years.
"It feels amazing," said Hendricks. "At Virtua, we want to be in our community. So for us to have an opportunity like this and literally be in our community and helping is just awesome."
Wiggins Family School Principal Lana Murray became emotional when she addressed the volunteers during the lunch hour.
"When I look out here and see all of you, it just brings tears to my eyes. Its just wonderful that you care enough about the children in our school to help us. I’m so touched," said Murray. "We tell our kids, you are better thant the best. And with your help, they’ll know it."
The 76ers Project 76 Day, presented by Virtua, is part of the NBA organization's Project 76 employee volunteer initiative, through which all 76ers employees pledge at least 76 hours of community service annually.
"Everytime we take off work to jump into the community, it matters," said 76ers President Chris Heck.