Throughout his young life, Liam Horan and his family have made donations to Lunch Break in Red Bank. It is an important cause to Liam, who is a senior at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, and to his family, and that is especially true right now as the 2020 coronavirus pandemic continues to grip New Jersey.
Lunch Break was founded in 1983. Decades later, it “continues to provide life’s basic necessities of food, clothing, life skills and fellowship to financially insecure individuals and families in Monmouth County and beyond,” according to its website.
As part of Lunch Break relaunching its FoodStock-Up 2020 fundraiser to help people in need as a result of the pandemic, the Horan family has been at the forefront of the initiative, collecting donations of food.
“This is our way of helping Lunch Break and helping people who are in need during the virus,” Horan said. “It was very necessary for us to help out.”
The FoodStock-Up initiative is taking place in conjunction with Operation Gear-Up, a service Lunch Break provides every week from Monday through Friday to individuals in need. A free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch are provided. A community dinner on Friday night and a Saturday morning breakfast are part of the program.
During April, Lunch Break served more than 8,000 grab-and-go meals.
Horan’s parents, John and Judith, set up a donation box in front of their Fair Haven home. Individuals were invited to drop off non-perishable food items the family delivered to Lunch Break.
Horan said his mother helped him organize and publicize the food drive. Several organizations in Rumson and Fair Haven got involved, as did members of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School football program.
Horan played on the football team for four years and also competed in wrestling and lacrosse for the Bulldogs. Other teammates and their families also organized food drives in the area.
He said pasta was a popular item his family and his football teammates were looking to accept since pasta parties were a tradition for the team the night before a game.
“The kids deserve all the credit,” Rumson-Fair Haven assistant football coach Jeremy Schulte said. “They came to the coaches with the idea and organized everything with their families for the donations. We have great kids on our team and in our high school.”
When they stopped counting all of the donations, the Horan family and the football team had collected 847 pounds of food.
Lunch Break appreciated the support, with communications and public relations coordinator Ellen McCarthy saying, “It was great to see the football team start this initiative in their community to help people who are struggling during the pandemic.”
Horan said the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has prompted him to think about other ways to promote self-growth. He and thousands of other teenagers lost out on the final months of their high school career and their final scholastic sports season after Gov. Phil Murphy announced on May 4 that schools would be closed for the rest of the academic year.
He acknowledged it is tough not being able to experience a lot of activities he was looking forward to this spring, but he is not letting the pandemic stop him from becoming a better person. That includes finishing the school year online with good grades and keeping on track with his fitness by giving it his all in workouts.
“Self-growth is very important,” Horan said. “I’ve got some personal goals I want to achieve during this time. I’m trying to stay social and talk to my friends every day. That’s going to help me become a better person.”
Lunch Break accepts donations of food and toiletries from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9-11 a.m. Saturday at 121 Drs. James Parker Blvd., Red Bank.