For generations, the General Motors assembly plant on Boxwood Road was a source of employment and common identity for the town of Newport. Although long vacant, the site continued to be a receptacle of shared stories and memories.
So when a local developer began demolition of the property to make way for a new regional business and logistics hub that could generate nearly $300 million in economic activity, they wanted to ensure the stories from the iconic automobile manufacturing plant could live on.
Those efforts came to fruition this past Saturday at Harvey Hanna & Associates’ “Community Day” in Newport, where more than 700 bricks from the plant were presented to local residents who purchased them as part of a recent fund drive.
The event was an opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate the shared heritage of the Boxwood Road plant, but also to support the town’s future. Harvey Hanna’s Ryan Kennedy presented a $7,000 check representing all the proceeds from the brick drive to the Delaware KIDS Fund / Richey Elementary School Food Pantry.
The bricks were gathered after plant demolition began in November 2018, and sold for $5 and $10 to buyers in Delaware and as far away as California, Canada and parts of Europe.
“We learned that every brick tells a story,” said Kennedy, vice president of marketing for the firm. “It was an awesome experience for us, thanking former employees for their service to GM and the community and of course supporting this important food pantry and the kids at Richey Elementary.”
“Our company is honored in helping celebrate the legacy of the former plant and the amazing people that kept it running for so many years,” Kennedy continued.
Richey Elementary principal Stephanie Armstrong was on hand Saturday to accept the check. Many students at the school are from families with incomes at or below the poverty line, and the food pantry collaboration spearheaded by Harvey Hanna and the Food Bank of Delaware is designed to ensure children have nutritious, delicious meals to fuel their learning.
Kennedy said bricks are still available for purchase until June 23rd, and that there was a surge in sales following Saturday’s event that evening and into Sunday. For those that could not attend Saturday’s event who pre-ordered or purchase bricks in the coming weeks, arrangements will be made by Harvey Hanna to make them available for pick up.
Kennedy said the initiative required significant “team effort to get the bricks ready.”
“From getting them over to our warehouse, cleaning each, chiseling off mortar, plating each one after mixing up an epoxy solution – it by far was the most challenging fundraiser we have coordinated, but well worth it.”
The Food Bank of Delaware sources food to the Richey pantry and help keep it running efficiently. Harvey Hanna is working with the Food Bank to set up additional pantries in other low-income schools, an initiative called 5-5-5 (five pantries in five schools in five years). The Harvey Hanna 10th Annual KIDS Fund 5K will support the opening of a second pantry at another school in September.