Gibbons Employees Raise Over $40,000 for the Newark Fresh Air Fund


June 23, 2020

On June 19, 2020, Gibbons P.C. capped off a week-long, firm-wide virtual fundraising effort led by the Gibbons Diversity Initiative to benefit the Newark Fresh Air Fund, gathering over $40,0000 in donations from individual employees to help make up some of the resources the Fresh Air Fund would otherwise have received from the annual “Battle of the Barristers” charity softball tournament, which was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“These numbers bear out our employees’ dedication to the City of Newark and their desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of its residents,” said Patrick C. Dunican Jr., Chairman and Managing Director of Gibbons. “This pandemic will not dampen our commitment to the city—and certainly not our commitment to its children.”

The “Battle of the Barristers” tournament typically takes place in early summer. Several area law firms, and sometimes in-house legal departments, field softball teams for a series of games that raises upwards of $100,000 for the Fresh Air Fund, which each summer provides camping and learning experiences at accredited, vetted camps to 200-400 inner-city children from the greater Newark area. Gibbons has long supported the Fund, and that support has grown as the Gibbons Diversity Initiative and Gibbons Cares charitable and volunteer program have centered community outreach efforts around the City of Newark. Gibbons has also been an enthusiastic participant and fierce competitor in the Battle of the Barristers since its very beginnings, with firm Director Michael R. Griffinger founding the tournament and missing only one out of the 33 that have been held so far.

However, with the cancelation of the 2020 Battle of the Barristers and the restrictions many participating firms have had to put on expenditures, including charitable sponsorships, in response to COVID-related shutdowns and slowdowns, the Fresh Air Fund could not count on tournament proceeds or corporate giving to support its mission this summer. Recognizing the dire situation, the Gibbons Diversity Initiative announced on Friday, June 12 a week-long fundraising effort modeled after the firm’s popular, longstanding “Jeans Days for Charity,” the two Fridays each month that all employees may wear casual clothes to work, paying a very small fee for the “privilege,” with all contributions from each Jeans Day directed to a specific charity suggested by an employee of the firm.

The effort culminated on Friday, June 19, a date that celebrates the ideal of an equal, just, and inclusive society, with a Virtual Jeans Day for the Fresh Air Fund—virtual not only because most employees are not yet working from Gibbons offices, but because the firm was closed to commemorate the holiday. All employees were welcome to donate throughout the week via PayPal, and those who did were asked to wear, on June 19, jeans, shorts and flip flops, or anything that would evoke their casual Fridays together in the office. To make each donation go further, Chairman and Managing Director Patrick Dunican and Battle of the Barristers founder Mike Griffinger offered to personally match every dollar collected. The combined efforts of so many Gibbons employees resulted in a $40,000+ donation to the Fresh Air Fund – nearly half of the total annual amount the Fresh Air Fund usually receives from all firms participating in the Battle of the Barristers.