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  • Writer's pictureDillon Siddiqi

Taking time to help others

Natale and Angelina Cortellessa helped prepare cereal kits for the food bank. (Courtesy Photo)

HAMMONTON—Local resident Natale Cortellessa is a dedicated volunteer committed to helping those around her and over the course of the pandemic has taken every opportunity to give back.

One volunteering project Cortellessa has recently been involved with has been the Camden County Pop Up Library.

“I was leaving Camden and I saw these people lined up and I thought they were lined up for food because it was during the pandemic and it was actually the Camden County Pop Up Library. They collect books for people that live in Camden and the surrounding areas,” Cortellessa said. “So, they have a pop up library three days a week in Camden and they have book arks, I think they have 75 of them, all over Camden that makes books accessible 365 days a year for anyone that wants to look at them.”

Cortellessa, over the last year has reached out to people in a handful of ways to gather and donate as many books as possible to the Camden County Pop Up Library.

“I started collecting books through the Women’s Civic Club and then to friends, and families, and neighbors and I delivered about an estimated 2,200 books over the last year to the pop up library. So that’s one of the projects I’ve been working on,” Cortellessa said.

Cortellessa is not alone in her volunteer efforts and has been working on some of her projects with her family. Cortellessa loved spending time with her family working on volunteer projects and found that it was a great way to spend time at the start of the pandemic.

“It really is nice. It gives us some time to spend together and during the pandemic, my work had gotten some Red Cross comfort kits and they needed volunteers. So, we decided as a family just to put them together. We made 52 of them over a couple month period,” Cortellessa said. “It was just nice. We spent time together and we were just able to have some family time because we weren’t really able to do anything during the pandemic. We weren’t able to go out so we figured we would just help people,” Cortellessa said.

Cortellessa’s two daughters, Angelina and Megan, also helped with her book collecting project by going through all of the children’s books from their childhood and donating them, since children’s books are what’s most needed by the Camden County Pop Up Library.

Cortellessa is able to contribute to the community with all of these volunteer projects by spending most of her free time working on them. She also recently worked on a project, “‘Cerealsly’ From The Heart,” with the Hammonton Woman’s Civic Club, of which she is a member.

“If I have some free time, instead of sitting down and watching TV I’ll work on a project. We just did the Woman’s Civic Club project with cereal. We collected boxes of cereal, shelf-stable milk, bowls and spoons and we put together 82 packages for the food bank,” Cortellessa said.

Another project Cortellessa got involved with starting in 2019 is the Winslow Township All Star Program, something that is also available to residents of Hammonton.

“There’s one thing that my daughter and I volunteered for, starting in 2019, a program in Winslow called the Winslow Township All Star Buddy Program. It’s open to anyone, even if you’re not from Winslow and what it does is pair children with special needs with a buddy and they’re able to do sports. We’ve done basketball, hockey, soccer and it’s just a great way for kids to play and learn sports…It’s just a wonderful program,” Cortellessa said.

Helping out isn’t something Cortellessa plans on stopping any time soon, either.

“It’s just nice to occupy your time and do something for someone else,” she said.


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