Local food pantry gives thanks for generous West Orange community

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — In a year filled with challenges, the Holy Trinity–West Orange Food Pantry was able to provide more than 400 turkeys and Thanksgiving side bags to needy families via its distribution on Nov. 21 and 22, mainly due to the generosity of the West Orange community.

“Don’t believe the naysayers that have big voices and like to complain about our town without doing anything to make it better,” food pantry administrator Cynthia Cumming said. “We have an amazing township that is always so generous and so giving. We can’t do what we do without our West Orange family.”

In 2019, the food pantry provided food for approximately 7,000 people. When the pandemic struck, it provided food for 41,000 in 2020. In 2021 the number went down to about 24,000, and the pantry is on track for that number again in 2022.

“It’s always a challenge to coordinate the Thanksgiving distribution along with regular food, but I have so much faith in our West Orange community that I know we will get everything we need and more,” Cumming said.

Food began pouring into the pantry with the annual ShopRite Teamsters Local 863 donation, coordinated by West Orange residents Patti Nathan and Kathy Zizza.

Including donations from individuals throughout the community, the food pantry welcomed donations from the Shauger Group, which provided 50 turkeys and bags; Bagels by Jarrett, which ran a turkey collection drive; the Boland Drive community; Roosevelt, Liberty and Edison middle schools; Hazel and Gregory elementary schools; West Orange Township Mayor’s Sunshine Fund; St. George’s Episcopal Church in Maplewood; St. Andrew’s Church in Newark; Adam Goldman, who provided turkey storage at Dunkin’; The Forum School in Wayne, which provided food and financial support; Kessler Rehabilitation; the West Orange Police Department, which ran a food drive and provided traffic control; Ss. Nicholas, Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Roseland, which provided food and financial assistance; West Orange Girl Scouts; West Essex Highlands; Kelly and St. Cloud elementary schools, which donated pies; Sharon Avram, who ran a food drive; and Barry Geltzeiler, who organized a community turkey drive that collected 380 turkeys and delivered them to the pantry with the West Orange High School football team. This doesn’t include the overflowing food donation bin at the local ShopRite.

The Gregory neighborhood raised $4,800 in funds to help the pantry cover food costs and the West Orange Chamber of Commerce donated all the proceeds of its Thanksgiving Luncheon 50/50 as well.

“I’d also like to give a shout out to our volunteers and team at the pantry,” Cumming said. “The amount of physical work and organization required to make it all happen is overwhelming, and everyone worked so hard — as always.”

For more information about the food pantry, visit tinyurl.com/mry74n9e

Photos Courtesy of Cynthia Cumming