WEST ORANGE, NJ — Members of the West Orange Police Department had the opportunity to provide lunch at Christine’s Kitchen, the soup kitchen located at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street, on Feb. 4, and it provided a glimpse into a different side of community policing.
Several police department supervisors, administrators and officers, family members, and Senior Officer’s Association President Michael Cassidy and PBA President Chris Jacksic, provided hot meals to approximately 75 persons. The idea to involve the WOPD was spearheaded by Officer Brad Squires, who solicited the help of dispatcher and communications Officer Chris Babinski, who is part of the food pantry outreach at Holy Trinity, which provides food each month for 150 families in West Orange and surrounding communities.
The lunch was full of good-natured bantering between police and the community, many of whom they interact with regularly.
Lt. Kevin Bolen brought along his two sons, Kevin and Anthony, who worked the serving line side-by-side with their dad. Kevin Bolen Jr. is an active member of the West Orange High School ROTC program and volunteers regularly for community outreaches. Sgt. David Naimaister was accompanied by his daughter, Amanda, a student at Montclair State University and active member of the Tri-Sigma sorority.
“This is really a great operation that goes on here,” Amanda Naimaister said as she also received a tour of the food pantry and its monthly operations.
“Amanda was elated to see the work being done for needy families in our community,” Babinski said.
Amanda Naimaister was so excited she couldn’t wait to get back to school and share her experience with her Tri-Sigma sisters and come back with them to do more volunteer work.
Following their “shift” at the soup kitchen, Squires thanked his colleagues for their dedication to this service, saying, “it wasn’t only the police that got behind this effort, but local businesses also supported idea and were eager to lend a hand.”
“I want to thank Johnny’s Pizzeria, The Bagel Box, Whole Foods and ShopRite for all the nutritional and great food that fed so many people today,” Squires continued.
In addition to the large variety of pizzas, salads and desserts, chef Antonio Monica — whose wife, Vittoria, is a dispatcher — also prepared several trays of pasta.
The WOPD are already looking into signing up for another date at the soup kitchen, and Squires felt the whole experience was very satisfying, and a lot of fun too.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Squires said, “so just wait until you see what we have in store for next time.”
Christine’s Kitchen is located at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 315 Main St. in West Orange, and is open each Saturday between noon and 1 p.m. All are welcome.
Photos Courtesy of Cynthia Cumming