News

Volunteer group leads Marblehead into new year

Jocelyn Cook felt like it was too tough for people to volunteer on the North Shore. So she did something about it.

In 2014, Cook founded SPUR, a volunteer-led charitable organization that makes it easier for people to get more involved in their communities. She chose the name to help drive home the point.

“We use it as a verb to spur good deeds,” she said. “We hope people who get involved with us are then spurred to do more good and kind things.”

The organization gives back not only to Marblehead residents, but to those in Lynn, Swampscott, and Salem as well. There are no age restrictions and all the volunteer activities are local and are held for a maximum of two hours, said Cook. In 2018, SPUR managed 2,584 volunteer opportunities which were filled by 677 adults and 285 kids under the age of 10.

“There wasn’t really an organization offering people realistic ways to get involved with volunteering, due to barriers like age, experience, or time,” said Cook. “I think people want to do something and the whole point of SPUR is making it easy for people to get involved and do something meaningful.”

In 2018, SPUR executed eight service learning enrichment workshops for kids, provided 575 backpacks full of school supplies for students across the four communities, harvested nearly 750 pounds of organic produce in its Community Roots Garden in front of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Marblehead, and provided 538 “bundles of cheer” for local kids in need of a healthy holiday pick-me-up, according to Cook.

Last year, the organization purchased 100 high-end, winter weather-resistant jackets and donated them to Lynn’s Ford Elementary School and Department of Children and Families, Marblehead Public Schools, Salem Public Schools, and each of the residents at Plummer Youth Promise.

Cook said the $4,300 for the jackets was donated to SPUR from proceeds following a pickleball tournament organized by Marisa Cole, owner of Sensational Travel in Salem.

Aside from organizing volunteer activities that benefit each of the communities, SPUR got its hands on three seed grants to support the implementation of youth-led community impact projects, said Cook.

At $500 for each grant, the organization was able to purchase supplies for a Girl Scout initiative that increases pedestrian safety by painting logos on crosswalks, help a high school student who wanted to implement a monthly workshop for nursing homes, and purchase materials for a second-grade classroom to create coloring books for pediatric cancer patients at local hospitals.

While the volunteer-based organization had an exemplary 2018, it has even bigger things in store for the new year, including the annual fundraiser in July.

In partnership with Tower School in Marblehead, SPUR is set to kick off a two-week summer day camp, from the end of July to the beginning of August, for 12- to 16-year-olds. The attending campers will get exposed to building with basic tools and architectural planning, culminating in the building of a playhouse to be donated to a partner organization that works with kids who don’t have play structures.

“One of our biggest goals is to continue to expand the awareness about SPUR, what we do here, and how people in the surrounding communities can get involved and volunteer,” said Cook.

 

More Stories From Marblehead