Cheerios boxes feature Spotswood ShopRite employees

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SPOTSWOOD — Recognizing their efforts to raise awareness of hunger and funds to deal with the issue, two employees of ShopRite are featured on a special edition box of Cheerios cereal.

Retail registered dietitian Maryrose Agel of Milltown and cashier Thomas Guarisco of East Brunswick were chosen to be featured on the Cheerios box, which was unveiled on March 27 at ShopRite on Summerhill Road in Spotswood.

“It is a great honor to be chosen [and] it is a great talking point because it brings attention to hunger in our communities, in our neighborhoods and in our neighbors. It is an awesome opportunity to be able to focus on hunger. I think it’s an absolute honor [and] it’s really thrilling,” Agel said.

Thousands of ShopRite associates across six states took part last September in a friendly competition sponsored by ShopRite and General Mills, the annual ShopRite Partners In Caring Cheerios Contest, according to a statement from ShopRite Supermarkets.

ShopRite Partners In Caring is a year-round, community-based hunger-fighting initiative that works with more than 50 food industry manufacturers to provide $3 million annually to qualified charitable agencies in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to the statement.

With this year’s contest theme “The Power of One” serving as a backdrop, ShopRite associates collected donations at check-out and held events in stores to raise awareness and funds to fight hunger. Together, ShopRite associates helped raise $1.5 million during the Cheerios contest to help feed the hungry, according to the statement.

“People donated $10 here, $10 there. I got nice donations and then as it started winding down toward the end, we were starting to (ask for donations) to the nearest dollar, which worked out very well. I was getting a lot of donations (and) a lot of our cashiers did a wonderful job,” Guarisco said.

“I was very honored to have my face on (the Cheerios box) and it makes me feel important, too. This is an event that went toward feeding the hungry. … Every time I look at the back of the box, I look at myself and I am like, ‘I did something for somebody who does not have to be hungry anymore,’ ” said Guarisco, who has worked at ShopRite for six years.

Agel and Guarisco was chosen to be featured on the cereal box as a result of their leadership in driving the fundraising efforts at the store, according to the statement.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community,” said Agel, who has worked at ShopRite for five years. “We have a very generous customer base that helped us raise a lot of money to give to our local community.”

In addition to the donations collected in the supermarket, ShopRite of Spotswood also received a $500 check and donated it to Jim and Jeanette Shevchenko of Broken Loaves, a food bank operating out of Calvary Chapel in Old Bridge.

Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].