OAK RIDGE, NJ -  Lakeland Bank was named a "Champion of Good Works''  by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey at its recent Chairman's Reception saluting corporate philanthropy.

More than 200 business executives attended the gala reception at the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack. Martin Kafafian, chairman of the CIANJ board of directors, presented the trophies to 31 businesses. "For most of these companies their donations, kindness and community outreach are part of their corporate culture, their mission," said Kafafian, who is also a managing member of the Beattie Padovano law firm in Montvale. "The public at large is often unaware of the magnitude and scope of their good works. This reception is our way of shining a spotlight on ‘Companies that Care.’"

Lakeland Bank has a long-standing history of supporting the communities it serves. They encourage colleague participation in giving back and paying it forward.  The Bank initiated a Jeans Day program in 2009. Many organizations support this type of event but the Bank took a unique approach to the idea. Instead of hosting just one or two days, the Jeans Day program allows colleagues to wear jeans to work every Friday for a $10 monthly donation. Each month focuses on a different charity. The Bank selects six charities and colleagues vote on the remaining charities.

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The Bank’s selections include:

  • Meals on Wheels in January;
  • SCARC & The ARC of NJ in May;
  • Lakeland Bank’s Sussex County Golf Classic in June and Scholarship Golf Outing in September;
  • United Way Food Drive in November and
  • Share-A-Gift Program in December.

For 2015, colleagues voted for:

  • American Cancer Society,
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation,
  • Autism Speaks, NJ,
  • Wounded Warrior Foundation,
  • St. Jude Children’s Hospital and
  • Animal Shelters.

Last year, $34,000 was donated by colleagues and the Bank gave an additional $500 donation to each charity at the end of the year.

The CIANJ is a statewide business advocacy organization based in Paramus. It represents more than 900 member companies from every business sector. The associations asked businesses to tell stories of their good works and more than 85 responses were given. These accounts and pictures are featured in a special "Companies that Care" section in the March issue of COMMERCE Magazine, the media arm of the association.

A panel of judges reviewed all the submissions and selected 31 champions. The judges included:

  • Cathleen Davey, executive director of Ramapo College Foundation,
  • John Galandak, president of CIANJ,
  • Jackie Lue Raia, assistant director of NJ Sharing Network,
  • Cindy Myer, owner of Ridgewood Moving Service who also serves as president of the board for Center for Hope and Safety;
  • Jacey Raimondo, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Bergen County,
  • Judi Stewart, an ambassador with the CIANJ Human Resources Council, and
  • Tom Toronto, president of Bergen County’s United Way.