Colleges and hospitals in Camden worked with community organizations to help 12,500 city residents in 2013 through community service and volunteerism, according to a task force report released this week.
The Camden Higher Education and Healthcare Task Force report also says its member institutions have reached about 7,000 schoolchildren.
Louis S. Bezich, an executive at Cooper University Health Care who chairs the group, said in a news release that he hopes companies moving into Camden will make similar commitments to civic engagement.
"It's about working together to find real solutions to problems existing in the city," he said. "For those companies looking to invest in Camden, we ask that they participate in similar business practices to help support the local community."
The coalition was formed a decade ago to bring together Camden County College, Cooper University Health Care, Lourdes Health System, Rutgers-Camden, Rowan University, CAMcare, Virtua, and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. The report released this week highlights the community service work its members have done, aggregating their work in summary form.
Rutgers-Camden students spent more than 280,000 hours on community service, the report says, including through more than 60 civic learning courses. The Hill Family Center for College Access reached nearly 1,100 students from city schools through its programs at the public library.
Camden's students made up a major focus of service work: Lourdes Health System ran a backpack drive to provide 200 backpacks with school supplies to low-income families, and CAMcare did a similar program to provide 150 backpacks. An annual prom gown drive brought in 455 dresses that were then distributed to high school students.
Medical students at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University worked more than 4,000 hours with Cathedral Kitchen, Volunteers of America, Center for Family Service, and the school district to feed homeless people, tutor students, and work in community gardens.
The full report is available at camden.rutgers.edu/pdf/2014-CivicEngagementReport.pdf