Employees at a company in Yaphank are helping the less fortunate by making bagged lunches each month for a local soup kitchen.
On the third Tuesday of each month, workers at Maharam, on Horseblock Road, gather in the company cafeteria to assemble at least 80 bag lunches for the soup kitchen at St. Joseph the Worker Church, in East Patchogue.
Maharam pays for the ingredients for the lunches—which include either a peanut butter-and-jelly or ham-and-cheese sandwich, a bottle of water, snack, a packet of oatmeal, and a card with an inspirational message—and gives employees paid time off to assemble the lunches and take them to St. Joseph the Worker.
About 10 employees each month are involved with the project, which launched in November 2022. They shop for supplies at Sam’s Club and a local delicatessen, assemble the lunches, and drop them off at the soup kitchen.
“It’s a nice feeling being able to give back,” said Angela Guarino, facilities supervisor at Maharam and one of the five members of the company’s Maharam Cares committee, which develops ideas for volunteer projects.
Guarino came up with the idea for the Bag-A-Lunch Charity event and organizes it each month, said Jacinta Whiston, a project manager in Maharam’s design studio and Maharam Cares committee member.
“It just came out of the blue,” said Sue Kahl, who runs the soup kitchen at St. Joseph the Worker. “They just came to us.”
St. Joseph serves a free takeaway dinner each Tuesday. On the third Tuesday of each month, people also get to take a bagged lunch with them, thanks to Maharam’s efforts.
The initiative came as the soup kitchen began seeing a change in the people it serves, with more families with children seeking help, Kahl said.
“The lunch they pack even has oatmeal, so they also get breakfast,” Kahl said. “They really do a nice job.”
Maharam employees have embraced the program.
“Everybody loves it,” Whiston said.
In addition to Guarino and Whiston, the other members of the Maharam Cares committee are Shondel Adams, Theresa Ferraro and Lillian Stanford.
Maharam, which was founded in 1902 by Louis Maharam, an immigrant from Russia, designs and manufactures high-end textiles for commercial and residential interiors.
Maharam is part of MillerKnoll, based in Zeeland, Mich., which also includes furniture brands Herman Miller and Knoll.
About 100 employees work at Maharam’s facility in Yaphank, which includes a warehouse and offices for the company’s design studio, credit and accounting departments, and other corporate functions.