Food drive spreads hol­i­day cheer

NAWC hands out 330 meal bas­kets

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By BROOKE SCHULTZ [email protected]­pub.com

The dreary weather on Satur­day morn­ing didn’t stop the Ne­wark Area Wel­fare Com­mit­tee from spread­ing hol­i­day cheer.

Satur­day was the con­clu­sion of an ef­fort that col­lected thou­sands of pounds of food for those in need. Re­cip­i­ents lined up at the First Pres­by­te­rian Church of Ne­wark while vol­un­teers helped load the 330 food boxes onto dol­lies and walked them to the park­ing lot.

Mayor Polly Sierer, who serves as pres­i­dent of NAWC, said it was truly a com­mu­nity ef­fort that brought the event to­gether for an­other year.

Nu­mer­ous schools, churches and day cares col­lected food for NAWC. Sierer noted that Hodgson Vo-Tech, Ne­wark Char­ter School Mid­dle School and Ne­wark Char­ter High School all do­nated up­ward of 3,000 items.

“These three schools usu­ally pro­vide con­tri­bu­tions. This year, they went above

and be­yond and col­lected more food than ever be­fore,” she said.

Vol­un­teers spent the pre­vi­ous two days sort­ing the food and pack­ing it into boxes.

Of the more than 300 peo­ple to re­ceive a food box, 59 were se­niors from Main Tow­ers and else­where, and 43 were Span­ish-speak­ing res­i­dents, Sierer said.

As­sist­ing the Span­ish­s­peak­ing fam­i­lies on Satur­day were Chris­tiana High School teacher Katie Sevilla and stu­dents from the school’s ASPIRA club, a stu­dent-based lead­er­ship pro­gram that is aimed at His­panic youth.

“The kids look for­ward to this every year,” Sevilla said, adding that stu­dents who have grad­u­ated of­ten re­turn to help out.

The stu­dents also dis­trib­uted toys they had col­lected for chil­dren whose fam­i­lies came to pick up a food box.

“It’s fun and re­ally nice help­ing peo­ple make their day bet­ter,” said Adamari Lopez, a 17-year-old Chris­tiana stu­dent. “It’s al­ways im­por­tant to help peo­ple in this way and give them some­thing to look for­ward to dur­ing the hol­i­day.”

For the re­cip­i­ents, the food boxes were a wel­come gift.

“It will get us through and help,” Kelly Jack­son said, not­ing that she is car­ing for her brother who has a dis­abil­ity and her great-niece. She added that she is ready to pay the do­na­tions for­ward.

“If some­one I know needs a plate, I’m will­ing to share,” she said.

For Elisa Wil­liams, it lessens the stress of the hol­i­days. She noted that she is rais­ing her 5-yearold grand­son and, while she’s used to do­ing things her­self, the help dur­ing the hol­i­days is ap­pre­ci­ated.

“I don’t have enough money to meet my needs,” she ex­plained. “It’s a very big help.”

Elsie Reyes agreed. “I’m grate­ful and thank­ful that they’re help­ing other peo­ple who may be in a bind,” she said. “I’m very blessed.”

NAWC is driven com­pletely by vol­un­teers. To get in­volved, go to www. newarkareawel­fare.org.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY BROOKE SCHULTZ

Vol­un­teers help cart boxes of food to the cars of re­cip­i­ents as part of the Ne­wark Area Wel­fare Com­mit­tee’s an­nual hol­i­day food drive Satur­day.

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