EAST BRUNSWICK – A haze of hunter green uniforms filed in and out of the East Brunswick High School Bear’s locker room Thursday afternoon, each attached to a brimming bag of food.
Within minutes of loading the Middlesex County Food Outreach Organization Distribution Services’ (MCFOODS) van, dozens of the high school’s athletes huddled for a picture near the 65 bins of nonperishable food items they’re credited with collecting.
“They’re so much more than good football players – they’re good citizens,” said East Brunswick High School Principal Michael Vinella.
Much like a play on the field, timing can be everything for the county’s official food bank, an operation that relies heavily on public generosity, said Jennifer Apostol, a project manager with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, an entity that oversees MCFOODS.
“This 3,250-pound donation couldn’t have come a moment too soon,” Apostol said. “Without fail, the summertime lull depletes our supplies every year. To make matters worse, last month we counted a record high number of food agencies – 49 in total – seeking our assistance during the weekly distributions in New Brunswick.”
East Brunswick High School Junior Sean O’Sullivan led the charge for these hard fought summertime donations, asking both his upper and underclassmen teammates for a few hours of their time.
The response was more than he expected, with approximately 100 players making rounds in their local neighborhoods on July 15 to distribute collection bags, only to return, at latest, by Thursday to pick-up the goods.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people willing to help that just don’t have the time,” O’Sullivan said. “This makes it a little easier on them.”
This is the second year that O’Sullivan has made a personal effort to tackle the issue of hunger in Middlesex County, launching a similar drive in 2012. He hopes it will become a tradition, a legacy that his class will pass down to the next generation of pigskin-loving players.
“Our teams know the value of giving back,” said a proud East Brunswick School District Athletic Director Frank Noppenberger. “It’s amazing how much our kids actually do.”
Apostol is encouraging other residents to follow in these civic-minded youths’ foot steps by sponsoring a drive of their own. For instructions, interested parties can log onto www.mciauth.com or reach Apostol by calling 609-409-5033 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone interested in making a food donation can also find permanent drop-off sites located at libraries spanning the County, including those in East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, Milltown, Monroe, North Brunswick, Perth Amboy, Piscataway, Plainsboro, South Brunswick, Spotswood, South Amboy and Woodbridge.
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