IRVINGTON, NJ — Alison Bryant of the CWU Food Pantry, located at 1240 Clinton Ave., Irvington, is involved with Irvington’s annual Tree-Lighting Ceremony and Toy Giveaway, scheduled at the Irvington Public Library on Thursday, Dec. 6.
On Sunday, Sept. 30, Bryant hosted a charity food donation drive at the Stop & Shop supermarket on Scotland Road in South Orange, and these are just the tip of the iceberg regarding her charitable events this holiday season. She participated in the D. Bilal Beasley street renaming ceremony and memorial statue dedication on Saturday, Sept. 29; the Bridges Outreach 30th Anniversary 5K Run-Walk on Sept. 29; the Irvington Fire Department’s eighth annual Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, Oct. 14; the Bridges Call to Action 30th Anniversary Breakfast on Monday, Nov. 26; and the Essex County Democratic Committee annual Holiday Mixer and Toy Drive at the Mayfair Farms in West Orange on Monday, Dec. 3, sponsored by East Orange Democratic Committee Chairman and Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones and his wife, Jacqueline.
“That’s where I just came from,” said Bryant on Monday, Dec. 3, of the Mayfair Farms event. “It was good. They collected a lot of toys. It was a nice event. Several toys were collected to benefit various organizations in the East Orange and Greater Newark Area.”
“We are donating toys to the Irvington Public Library, as we do every year for their annual holiday party,” said Bryant on Sunday, Dec. 2. “During the week prior and leading up to Thanksgiving, we served approximately 400 people. We gave out over 130 turkeys.”
Bryant is also part of the Feed the Need Coalition out of Solid Rock Baptist Church on Chancellor Avenue, another charitable activity she has been involved with recently. But that’s just par for the course for a woman who is a member of the Irvington Planning Board, president of the Friends of the Irvington Public Library, an executive board member and immediate past president of the New Jersey Library Trustee Association and secretary of the Rotary Club of Irvington, in addition to her other commitments at the CWU Food Pantry.
“The Bridges event was a breakfast. It was a call-to-action symposium, celebrating 30 years of the Bridges Outreach Inc. We had Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Mayor Baraka spoke and we also had Julia Orlando from Bergen County, where they have been successful in ending homelessness,” said Bryant on Monday, Dec. 3. “We feed the homeless every week in New York City, Newark and Irvington. We got to New York City on Wednesday nights and Friday nights. Saturday, we’re in Newark. Sunday, we’re in Irvington.”
Bryant said the Bridges organization has been celebrating its 30th anniversary all year with various events celebrating its history of charitable works.
Bryant, who took part in the 30th Anniversary Bridges 5K Run-Walk in Summit on Sept. 29, also participated in the Irvington Fire Department’s annual Breast Cancer Walk. Although the Irvington Fire Department’s annual Breast Cancer Walk was an Irvington event, Bryant said it was also relevant to her work with Bridges and the other charitable organizations with which she’s involved.
Bryant said serving her community is a lifestyle choice and a pleasure.
“We were walking for the cause at the IFD annual Cancer Walk but, for me, I’m also walking for the Rotary Club and the food pantry and Bridges,” said Bryant on Monday, Dec. 3. “I was walking for everything.”
Bryant also used to be a member of the East Orange Chamber of Commerce, although she has always resided in Irvington. She’s also a current member of the Irvington NAACP.
“I do what I do because, as a Rotarian, our motto is ‘Service above self’ and so, therefore, I live and adhere to that motto. That motto not only pertains to Rotary, but to all that I do, because it’s living up to that motto,” said Bryant. “We’re supposed to be providing service above self and that’s what I do. I put others before myself. It also has to do with my Catholic upbringing, where we were taught to always help others. We are supposed to be helping the world.”
“Pope John Paul II came to my church, Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, and I received rosary from him. I’m very active in my church and, because of my community service, that’s why I was knighted by the Roman Catholic Church. It’s called ladies, not knights,” said Bryant. “In October 2010, I was knighted by Cardinal (Timothy) Dolan in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. And so I’m a member of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which is the oldest, most prestigious order in the Roman Catholic Church. It was a great honor.”
As great as that honor was, however, Bryant said the acclaim, awards and recognition are not the reason she does what she does.
“It’s about serving your community,” said Bryant. “Service above self flows throughout my blood and my life. So it’s not hard for me to embrace that motto, because I have embraced it throughout my life. I’m a true Rotarian.”