A small group of North Bergen employees decided last month that they should be doing more for the township at whole, so they formed a committee and organized a food drive for their neighbors who were in need.
According to Township Administrator Christopher Pianese, during a departmental meeting, the idea was raised to have employees deposit canned goods in a garbage can. They decided to combine forces with Our Lady of Fatima Church, which has a food pantry that routinely hands out food to the needy. Employees also contacted the Health Department, which gives out food vouchers.
“A small committee of employees decided that as a community, we should be doing more.” – Liz Gonzalez
He said employees went the extra mile by contacting local supermarkets and vendors and asking for help. Local stores gave them gift cards to use to buy more food or to give to families.
“As much as the town is involved in the extent we indorsed it, it’s a group of employees that really handled this,” said Pianese. “The town gave its backing, but it was really the employees that put the work into it on their own time.”
Needed to do more
According to Secretary to the Administration Liz Gonzalez, she, along with Erin Barillas, Ruth Evertz, Michelle Lenczuk, Sheila Zulueta, and Steve Fong, were a part of the township committee. Father Peter G. Wehrle, Vivian Crespo and Richie McHale of Our Lady of Fatima Church also helped organize the event.
“A small committee of employees decided that as a community we should be doing more for the town, since we live and work here, so this was sort of our kickoff,” said Gonzalez. “We hope to plan to do more.”
Gonzalez said that talks about the food drive began with conversations within the school district and with families who were having a hard time in the economic downfall. She said that some families had to live together because of the price of rent.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco said that the food drive was a positive move made my employees to help their neighbors.
“Our employees are wiling to go the extra mile to see that people who do not have needs are cared for,” said Sacco. “This is just the type of thing that makes North Bergen a wonderful place to live.”
More than 100 bags
Gonzalez said that more than 100 bags of food were prepared, and cases of Goya food products, canned meats, and additional bags of juices and other groceries were given away.
Those invited also received $10 to $25 gift certificates to local supermarkets, like ShopRite at Columbia Park and Pathmark. Local businesses like Pollo Tropical, Boulevard Diner, and other local delis participated. ShopRite at Columbia Park also donated a $250 certificate for the employees to buy food.
Out of the 100 bags, 75 were distributed on Dec. 30, with the remaining food given to the Our Lady of Fatima pantry.
“What developed [with the food drive], we didn’t even envision it ever happening,” said Pianese.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.