Woodbridge shares heartful message of need for food donations


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With $30,000 in cash donations and more than 25,000 pounds of non-perishable food collected to support the efforts of local food pantries, Woodbridge community members showed they “have-a-heart” during the township’s annual food drive.

“This is one of the best events we have all year because it puts a lot of people together who are important – elected officials, school officials, businesses, volunteers and students – as they come together and celebrate the Have-A-Heart Food Drive,” Mayor John E. McCormac said as he visited the third grade class at Robert Mascenik Elementary School No. 26 on Feb. 14.

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Principal Judith Martino and third grade teachers Melissa Finnerty, Leslie Cardello and Dolores Boyd coordinated the student food drive program, which collected more than 700 pounds of non-perishable foods.

The Have-A-Heart Food Drive, which concluded on Valentine’s Day, challenges township businesses, retail food service outlets, hospitality industry, corporate businesses and offices, schools, students and residents to donate 214 pounds of food or contribute $214 to assist Woodbridge food pantries to continue their work providing food and meals to less fortunate residents and the homeless.

This year, more than 100 entities contributed.

McCormac said the food banks receive donations during the winter holiday season, but at the start of the year, people forget that others are still in need of food.

Since 1995, the annual food drive has launched each January under the sponsorship of the Woodbridge Department of Health and Human Services and the “We Feed Woodbridge” Food Bank committee.

The food drive is also sponsored by Wegmans in Woodbridge, ShopRite, Northfield Bank, the Colonia Business Community and the Colonia Corner news publication.

“[The Have-A-Heart Food Drive] is very important for We Feed. We have 11 food pantries in town and two soup kitchens,” said Peter Barcellona, chairman of the We Feed Committee. “The food pantry feeds roughly 600 families per month, 120 people per week, which is a large number of people. We live in a great community, but unfortunately some people in our community [come into] circumstances sometimes in which they have no control over and need a little boost with food each month.”

Barcellona told the third graders they have a direct impact in their community.

“We have well over 100 volunteers that work every month to make sure those that are hungry are fed with food,” he said.

McCormac added along with non-perishable foods, funds are needed for dairy products such as milk, bread and cheese.

“A lot of times, we do not realize the need [for food],” he said. “A lot of people will not go hungry because of you.”

Along with Mascenik, students from St. John Vianney School in Colonia and Avenel Middle School collected more than 2,000 pounds of non-perishable foods, and Bishop George Ahr High School in Edison collected more than 1,200 pounds of food.

Significant contributors include the Colonia Business Community group, which donated $6,000 and 700 pounds of food.

Ward 5 Councilwoman Debbie Meehan, owner of the Colonia Corner news publication, presented a $6,000 check to Barcellona at the visit to the Mascenik school. The funds were collected during the Colonia Business Community group’s annual Taste of Colonia.

Sansone Foundation donated $5,000, Wegmans in Woodbridge donated 1,000 pounds of food, Woodbridge ShopRite donated 1,000 pounds of food, RSI Bank donated $2,500, Northfield Bank donated $2,140, Woodbridge Community Center donated 1,000 pounds of food and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Port Reading donated 1,000 pounds of food.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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