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More than a dozen employees from a Silicon Valley technology company visited the Phillips Magnet Elementary School campus this Tuesday morning.

But instead of working in their normal roles as engineers, the group spent the day winging pickaxes and wielding power drills inside the school’s quarter-acre garden.

The volunteer work team, from Equinix, Inc. of Redwood City, donated their time to improve the garden — adding a retaining wall, planting a pumpkin patch, panting benches and building metal shade structures and a wooden trellis.

After connecting with the Teacher Resource Center of the North Bay, staffers arranged to work at the north Napa campus. A second group of volunteers also worked at the same time at a garden at Pueblo Vista Magnet Elementary School.

“I want to cry,” said Phillips teacher Jacqueline Moore. “It’s so wonderful to have help” in the garden, she said.

School parents and others sometimes chip in but normally most of the work is done by fellow teacher Paige Pleasant and herself, said Moore. “I’m very grateful.”

“These are projects we could have never have accomplished” without the help of this group of volunteers, said Pleasant.

“We like to give back to the community,” said Mackenzie Kaplan, a program manager at Equinix. The company specializes in internet connection and data centers.

Kaplan said each U.S. member of the international company – which has about 9,000 employees – is given eight hours of volunteer time off every six months.

After becoming familiar with Napa from team meetings previously hosted in the area, this group of employees decided to help out at the two Napa school gardens. Phillips is located at 1210 Shetler Ave. in east Napa.

Besides their labor, the Equinix group donated materials such as concrete blocks, soil and other supplies totaling about $1,500, said Moore.

The bulk of the volunteers arrived in Napa in a large motor coach, having left Sunnyvale at 8 a.m.

Wearing matching gray T-shirts printed with the phrase “Be Well. Do Good. Stay Connected,” the Equinix volunteers split into teams and immediately went to work.

“I’m so excited,” said Pleasant, as she helped organize the efforts and circulated between teams. Something as simple as a retaining wall for the pumpkin patch will make such a difference, she said.

“It’s our first pumpkin patch on campus,” she said.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.