Thousands of associates, customers and community members participate in the annual ShopRite Earth Day Challenge.

April offers an annual reminder of the importance of being good stewards of the Earth and the environment. It’s a chance to think globally, but act locally.

For nine years, ShopRite supermarkets up and down the East Coast have proudly participated in the ShopRite Earth Day Challenge, providing community volunteers with complimentary cleanup kits — including donated trash bags and gloves – to tidy up their local neighborhoods, beaches and parks. The event reinforces our shared responsibility of protecting Earth’s natural resources.

In 2017, an amazing 10,000 volunteers gathered to clean up 130 locations in five states. That’s 50,000 participants since the program’s inception.

“Our communities have really come to rely on the kits we provide for their organized activities and view us as a true partner in keeping our neighborhoods vital and clean,” said Amanda Fischer, a business development and outreach manager with Village Super Market, which owns 29 ShopRite stores.

This year, Fischer’s company will be partnering with the New Jersey Forestry Service and the Sandy Relief Tree Recovery Program, donating 26,000 paper ShopRite bags that will be used to transport trees across the Garden State. In return, Village will receive 2,000 tree seedlings to be distributed throughout their 29 stores on Earth Day.

“Whether it’s in-store educational activities for children or picking up litter in a local park,” Fischer said, “we all come together as a team.”

Sheila Suerig, a registered dietitian with ShopRite of Clinton, looks forward to the annual Earth Day activities at her store in New Jersey, including tree seedling giveaways and educational opportunities.

“This year we are excited to be partnering with the local Boy Scouts to teach the next generation about how to reduce, reuse and upcycle,” Suerig said.

Associates at the store will also assemble to clean up the area around the iconic Red Mill and the Landsdown Trail in downtown Clinton – an important watershed area to the Raritan River.

For Dominick Cingari of Grade A Markets in Connecticut, Earth Day is an outstanding opportunity to connect with the communities and environmental organizations from the areas where his 10 ShopRite stores operate.

Last year, Cingari was part of a team that volunteered at a community garden at Fairgate Farm in Stamford. Soil was turned. Weeds were pulled. Hands were dirtied. And the event was broadcast live on Facebook.

“We were excited to be able to tell our story live and to share an important message about environmental responsibility,” Cingari said. “This year, we plan to use this platform again for even more of our events.”

Cingari’s stores are busy planning many activities for this year, including beach cleanups in Stamford and beautifying the River Valley Trail in Norwalk. Cingari realizes that the benefits of participating are plentiful.

“These events build our community relationships and provide our employees with a positive experience that strengthens bonds, builds morale and creates a shared sense of pride,” Cingari said.

A cleaner environment, a connected community and an inspired team — what could be better?

To learn more about how to participate in this year’s challenge, please call 1-800-ShopRite during the month of April.