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Leading by example How some N.J. companies do good while they are doing well Part 2

Not everything is about revenue and profit. The best companies have known the value of giving back to the community for generations. And they are finding today, with this new generation of millennial employees, that giving back is more important than ever for both the communities they serve and the culture of their workplace. The following are…

Mars

How many trick-or-treat sacks don’t contain at least one M&M’s bag?

Business is scary good for that confection company this time of the year — but it reciprocates in places that hold special significance for its sweet product, according to Tanya Berman, director, M&M Brand.

Several days before Halloween, Mars Chocolate and its M&M’s brand representatives transformed Howard and Morton streets in Newark — where the candy-coated chocolates were first created — into a haunted promenade where 4,000 free costumes were given out to children who live in the city. 

It was the second year this event was held by M&M’s, which has a plant in Hackettstown.

There were sweets galore for Newark’s youth, as well as a chance for them to meet some local sports stars.

Most important, the company’s representatives say, is that “every community deserves the opportunity to safely celebrate Halloween.”

M&T Bank

New York-based M&T Bank recently made a massive business investment in New Jersey with its $5.5 billion acquisition of Hudson City Bancorp Inc.

Now, it’s gearing up to make a different kind of investment in the Garden State.

M&T Bank is in the process of distributing $615,000 to 45 nonprofit groups across the state as part of a large initiative to community development and other areas.

One of the organizations to benefit from the bank’s giving has been the Special Olympics of New Jersey, where M&T’s regional president, Tom Comiskey, is on the board.

“At M&T Bank, we believe the success of our bank is tied to the success of the communities we serve, and we have become actively involved with many of New Jersey’s community organizations,” Comiskey said. “We have always been committed to communities across our footprint and M&T will be deeply focused on strengthening New Jersey’s neighborhoods and supporting organizations that contribute to our local quality of life.”

PSE&G

PSE&G knows it can come across as the uninvited guest.

“We’re in people’s homes, and they don’t necessarily pick us, it’s regulatory,” said Ellen Lambert, chief diversity officer for the utility and the president of its foundation.

For that reason, the company feels the onus is on it to become a neighborly part of the community by giving back, which it does in a variety of ways.

PSE&G, both financially and through staff volunteers, supports kaBOOM!, which is a nonprofit initiative to build playgrounds in underserved communities such as Camden.

“One thing that’s wonderful is when you’re out there with volunteers, the community comes out and, all of a sudden, you’re working side-by-side with people who were just standing on the corner watching,” Lambert said. “We’ve even had the community host barbecues to feed the volunteers.

“It’s just an amazing come-together event, the kind of thing we love to do.”

Reckitt Benckiser

Reckitt Benckiser is based in the United Kingdom, but its strong New Jersey business presence is backed by local philanthropic commitments.

Lynn Kenney, a Reckitt Benckiser spokeswoman, said the company has been helping facilitate disaster preparedness prep rallies at New Jersey schools.

“Back during Hurricane Katrina, there were children separated from their families; some of them didn’t reunite until seven months later because they couldn’t speak and couldn’t tell people who they belonged to and where they were from,” Kenney said. “Part of this program is making sure children have contact cards to prevent that.”

The program, called “Get Ready, Get Safe,” is organized through a partnership with Save the Children. It was in 2003 that the multinational decided to put all its fundraising efforts behind that charity, which works to prevent children under 5 from dying of diarrhea, a preventable illness that nonetheless claims many lives.

“We really wanted to focus our efforts and have a global call to see if we could really make a change,” Kenney said.

Sobel & Co. LLC

What does caring look like at Sobel & Co. LLC?

A vacant, lights-off office.

“Every year in August, our entire office is closed (for one day) and we go out to help a nonprofit,” said Sally Glick, principal and chief growth strategist of the Livingston-based firm.

Glick said these endeavors in the past have involved — among many other things — cleaning up a beach after Hurricane Sandy and organizing an event for a cerebral palsy institute.

“We do more than write a check, we give our time,” Glick said.

That’s not to say the accounting and consulting firm doesn’t donate money as well — it has interns constantly coming up with ways to raise funds for organizations.

Glick said Sobel & Co., which also has nonprofit clients it provides services to, has an ongoing commitment to giving back that doesn’t begin or end with its unique August outing.

Read Part 1

To read Part 1 and learn how even more companies are “Leading by example,” click here.

Brett Johnson