Back to School with Cocoa Packs! 

This Newsletter cannot adequately highlight the many volunteers and community partners who support Cocoa Packs. We encourage you to visit our Facebook page at and promise you will be inspired by the generosity of our community, especially the generosity of our students and young people.            
Volunteer Spotlight

Cocoa Packs is shining a light of gratitude on all of our hardworking and generous SUMMER VOLUNTEERS!   Over 300 volunteers dedicated countless summer hours sorting, organizing, packing, distributing, planting, painting and constructing (for details, read on!). Our volunteers are all ages and skill levels, with students, parents, teachers and community members finding meaningful ways to  contribute
to Cocoa Packs.  We could not have done it without YOU!

Our sincere gratitude to Erin Darr, Cocoa Packs Director of Volunteers, for her extraordinary efforts and countless hours to coordinate all of our summer volunteer groups and individuals. 
Thank you, Summer Volunteers!
Come See How We Have Grown...
Cocoa Packs started in 2015, with the goal of providing weekend food assistance to children facing food insecurity in the Hershey Area. In 2018 our enrollment has tripled and we are now reaching more children than ever. We are excited to announce that Cocoa Packs is growing too. Led by Erick Valentin, Hershey Middle School Principal, the Derry Township School District once again answered the call and provided Cocoa Packs with much-needed, extra space giving us the ability to create designated recipient and volunteer spaces  in the Hershey Middle School.  This expansion will directly impact our ability to reach the growing population of Derry Township students in need and  provide them with expanded services.  It will enhance our confidentiality measures, as we work toward a new security door which allows for Cocoa Packs to have its own wing as well as a side-door entrance for Cocoa Pack recipients and volunteers.

(Click here to see invitation)
It is bright and welcoming, freshly painted and newly carpeted, compliments of BB&T Lighthouse Project.   Christie Corado, Hershey mom of five and Senior Vice-President, Associate General Counsel at BB&T, connected Cocoa Packs with the Lighthouse Project.   The Lighthouse Project responds to local needs through community service and financial support.  BB&T employees donated their time and talent to transform the space into a happy place for Cocoa Packs recipients and volunteers.  
It is also a place where recipients can "shop" for and choose the food they receive using our new Choice Pantry.  The pantry creates a real-life grocery store experience, empowering participants and conserving pantry resources.  The Choice Pantry is an open-shelving system, built with love and great care by David Kramer, Derry Township School District's carpenter extraordinaire.   Come check out Dave's mad carpentry skills at the Open House on the 25th.
From Farm to Cocoa 
Packs Pantry! 

In 2014, Hershey Impact (comprised of The Hershey Company, Milton Hershey School, Penn State Health, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and The M.S. Hershey Foundation) built the Hershey Community Garden.  The garden serves multiple purposes in the Hershey community and reserves several plots for philanthropic giving.  This past Spring, HCG donated seven plots to Cocoa Packs.  An army of volunteers and community partners jumped right in to plant, tend to and cultivate the garden.  We are particularly grateful (again) to BB&T Lighthouse Project for purchasing all the plants, seeds and supplies and then planting all the produce  Despite heat, humidity and a great deal of rain this summer, the fruits and vegetables from the HCG is in abundance in our Choice Pantry, including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and zucchini.

A huge thank you to our Cocoa Packs Community Garden  coordinator Anne Hartzfeld.  Ann worked countless hours, developed an entire sub-volunteer system  for Garden picking, reporting produce numbers and delivery to Cocoa Packs weekly.

"What an honor to coordinate such a great group of volunteers, including a Mom's Group from Hershey, adults from the Vista School, scouts, and teachers sharing their "free" time.  One harvester called it her "dirt therapy!" All were so generous with their time in spite of mud, rain, and extreme heat.  They washed, weighed, bagged, and transported 
of produce to Cocoa Packs for distribution.  This community is truly blessed to have so many selfless individuals and families happy to lend a helping hand."  
 - Anne Hartzfield, Community Garden Coordinator

Back-to-school shopping is exciting -- new clothing, new kicks, new backpack. On August 23rd, Cocoa Packs opened its doors to recipients for its inaugural Back-To-School event. Students shopped for clothing, received personal care items and the all-important back-to-school haircut. The Clothing Closet, organized by Andrea King and Christa Callahan, offered recipients of all ages new socks and undergarments, along with new and gently used clothing. 

The Clothing Closet will be open at other Cocoa Packs events throughout the year, including the summer months, and on an "as needed" basis. As Andrea stated, "It was heart-warming to see the joy and excitement on the faces of the Cocoa Packs recipients. The Derry Township community was very generous with donations, but the need for clothing was greater than anticipated.  Please consider making a donation of new socks and underwear, money donations or gently used clothing to the Clothing Closet."

In addition to clothing, students received personal care kits, compliments of the Giving Tree of Hummelstown, filled with toothpaste, shampoo, lotion and other items.  They also received b ack packs filled with school supplies generously donated from Grace United Methodist Church and BB&T.  Beth Bogush donated acne  wash, soaps and cremes and surprise popsicles from Cocoa Packs Board member Megan Lawall! 

A mazing stylists, Desiree & Debbie, provided haircuts for three solid hours so our recipients could rock a fabulous back-to-school look. Thanks to Jilian Treadway for her back-to-school haircut vision and organizational skills. Our Cocoa Packs recipients are ready for the school year!  
Faulkner Family of Dealerships Donates Vehicle to Cocoa Packs

We are so grateful to Faulkner Nissan, Faulkner Subaru and their entire Family of Dealerships for coming together for this incredible donation. Cocoa Packs is now able to reach more children, more efficiently with our new vehicle.  The van assists with weekly food purchases, deliveries to recipients facing medical concerns and transportation issues and picking up larger donations from local organizations, like the Giving Tree.