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Driving Forces: BNL Volunteers Gather Goods for Charity

Christine Carter and Linda Rundlett

Christine Carter (right) and Linda Rundlett by the donation bins in Building 400 Not pictured: Linda Greves, co-chair of the food drive.

School just let out for the summer, but it won’t be long before “back-to-school” shopping ads start popping up all over Long Island. Fortunately, hundreds of children in low-income families won’t have to go to school with empty backpacks, thanks to a yearly school supplies drive organized by Brookhaven Town Interface.

Interface is a partnership between the Town of Brookhaven and its "good corporate neighbors,” who work together to help provide for families in need. Contributing groups range from small-scale businesses like local delis and hair salons to large government operations like the IRS and BNL.

Christine Carter, Brookhaven Lab's supervisor for quality of life, BERA, and Lab recreation programs, also volunteers her time as an Interface board member and helps ensure that Lab employees can easily donate to the cause. Carter coordinates the monthly filling and emptying of bins for the back-to-school drive as well as the holiday toy drive around Christmas time, both of which are run by Interface.

“I’m just the liaison between Brookhaven Town Interface and BNL,” says Carter of her role in the organization’s various collection activities. “Brookhaven employees are off-the-charts generous in giving, whether it’s a raffle or a physical donation of a back pack or a prom dress. And Brookhaven Town Interface makes that generosity last and last. They’re kind of like the clearinghouse that supports about 20 other community agencies. So no matter what a family’s need is — food or school supplies or clothing — they can go to one of those agencies, and Interface can take it from there.”

Food drive donations are picked up monthly by two other Brookhaven employees, Linda Rundlett and Linda Greves. Since the ‘80s, food items go primarily to St. Anthony’s Parish Outreach in Rocky Point, but during the holidays and times of emergency, Interface also runs a food drive and receives items from the Lab.

“The wonderful thing about the food drive is that every single penny, every single can donated goes directly to the people who need it, because we have no overhead,” says Rundlett. “And — we’re good shoppers! Whenever someone sends us a check, we spend it wherever we can get the best bargains on non-perishable items and when to get the best two-for-one deals.”

Carter and Rundlett are also thankful for the cooperative efforts of the American Physical Society (APS), which partners with the Lab in donating to the food drive, and for the many volunteers across the BNL campus who assist in delivering food from various departments to the on-site storage site, where they are picked up every month.

“The food drive has been around so long and is so well ensconced in the Lab that it basically runs itself,” Rundlett says. “Chris Carter organizes the volunteers for all Interface activities, and Linda Greves’ and my responsibility is to monitor the checking account for the food drive, manage every penny, pick up the food, and of course, go shopping when people make cash donations — which is a big job in and of itself. If you’ve ever held a bag with more than a few cans in it, you know they can get pretty heavy pretty fast. Just imagine a hundred dollars’ worth!”

The back-to-school drive starts on July 25 and runs through August 25. Anyone who would like to donate notebooks, calculators, markers, etc., to kids in need of supplies can find the designated bins in the lobby of Building 400. The food drive takes place year round, and bins can be found in most major buildings on site.

2011-2481  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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