With the 2008 holiday season coming to a close and the New Year nearly upon us, let’s not forget that there are many less fortunate families throughout Woodbridge Township that need special help each and every day, not just during the holidays.
One of the most important missions I have embraced as mayor is trying to raise public awareness about the need to continually seek donations to keep the township’s food pantry’s stocked throughout the year. We in Woodbridge recognize that hunger knows no season and no boundary. And, our township knows that it is crucial to work every day to collect food so we can help provide the necessities of life to our neighbors who might otherwise go hungry.
As a matter of fact, Town Hall has recognized the need to make food drives year-round events. Since 1995, the annual “Have a Heart” food drive — launched each January under the sponsorship of the Woodbridge Department of Health & Human Services and the “We Feed Woodbridge” Food Bank Committee — has become one of the most important community programs undertaken throughout the entire year.
While the “Have a Heart” food drive collects food donations through Feb. 14, we have extended our food collection programs throughout the year by asking voters to drop-off a food items when they go to their polling location to vote and at the summer concerts, the July 3rd fireworks display, and other entertainment and community events. Our goal is to focus attention not only on township-sponsored events, but to use the occasion of community events to raise awareness in our year-long quest to obtain food donations.
With the participation of fourth grade students from Robert Mascenik School #26 in Iselin, and students from Menlo Park Terrace School #19, Ford Avenue School #14, the Ross Street School #11, and many of our township churches, parishes and community organizations, we expect the “Have a Heart” food drive to be even more successful than ever – last year the “Have a Heart” food drive” collected more than 10,000 pounds of non-perishable foods, canned goods, pre-packaged and boxed foods, baby food and paper products. The food items are distributed to needy Woodbridge Township families and individuals through the following food pantries:
• Heavens Helper’s Pantry, 343 Pearl Street, Woodbridge (formerly Congregation Adath Israel), Kathy Hoffman, coordinator @ 732-742-8942;
• First Presbyterian Church, 20 Middlesex Avenue, Iselin, Gloria Haesler, coordinator @ 732-283-1188;
• Trinity Episcopal Church, Trinity Lane, Woodbridge, @ 732-634-7422;
• Metro Park Assembly of God, 48 Berkeley Blvd., Iselin, Sandra Burton, coordinator @ 732-310-8758;
• First Presbyterian Church, 600 Rahway Avenue, Woodbridge, George and Robin Goodrich, coordinator @ 732-634-1024;
• St. James Roman Catholic Church, 174 Grove Street, Woodbridge, Peggy Catalano, coordinator @ 732-636-4310;
• First Presbyterian Church of Avenel, 621 E. Woodbridge Avenue, Carolyn and Jake Stockl, coordinators @ 732-634-1631;
• First Congregational Church-Women of Faith, Barron Avenue, Woodbridge, Faith Longstreet, coordinator @ 732-634-0582;
• St. Cecelia Roman Catholic Church, 45 Wilus Way, Iselin @ 732-283-0150, and
• Elijah’s Bread Food Pantry, Ridgedale and E. Prospect avenues, Woodbridge @ 732-636-7727.
In addition to the annual Valentine’s Day “Have a Heart” food drive, non-perishable foods can be dropped off any weekday at the Woodbridge Township Public Health Center, 2 George Frederick Plaza, Woodbridge Town Hall, 1 Main Street, the Woodbridge Public Library, 1 George Frederick Plaza, or at the Woodbridge Community Center, 600 Main Street between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Information about the “We Feed Woodbridge” food drive program and the various other food drive programs, is available by contacting the Woodbridge Township Department of Health & Human Services at 732-855-0600 x5034. Ask for Peter Barcellona.
Again, thanks for your generosity and assistance in our year-long efforts to keep our food pantries stocked. And, may your New Year be filled with peace and prosperity.
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