The Southern Branch of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey is always in need of donations for those less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. Hurricane Sandy and its lingering effects have only compounded this need.
Now, more than ever, the FoodBank needs the help of the community to fulfill its mission. If the generosity it displayed on Nov. 10 at the Food Bank's Turkey Drive is any indication, this holiday season will be a plentiful one.
Margie Barham, executive director of the Southern Branch, said there has been a surge of support since Hurricane Sandy, which carried into the collection drive.
"They know that we've got to help each other, so we're getting a lot of that coming in," Barham said. "We get people that say, 'Look, I was fortunate that I
didn't lose anything. I feel like I've got to help; how can I help?' So we get lots of volunteers, we're getting lots of volunteers. It's great."
The drive was held at the FoodBank's location at 6735 Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township. Barham said the organization had set a goal of collecting 5,000 pounds of food, which she said was achieved easily, although they won't know the final total for another week.
The collection drive was a collaboration between the FoodBank and the Egg Harbor Township-based law firm D'Arcy Johnson Day, which jump-started the day's collection with a donation of 300 frozen turkeys.
As a firm specializing in personal and work-related injuries, D'Arcy Johnson Day has clients from throughout the community, many of them from some of the areas most devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Partner Chris Day, said a combination holiday and relief donation drive made for a good opportunity to give back to the community that has made the practice a success.
"We have a lot of friends, families, clients, who have just lost pretty much everything on some of the barrier islands," Day said. "Mystic Island, Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City ... hearing what they're going through is another reason why we wanted to make sure that, especially for Thanksgiving, they have an opportunity to sit down with their families and have a meal."
Cat Country 107.3 also lent its support, placing representatives and a booth at the site.
Volunteers worked busily to organize the incoming goods. Several assembled Disaster Relief Boxes, which consist of nonperishable goods like soups, granola bars and uncooked pasta, for distribution to some of the hardest-hit areas.
Members of the community arrived steadily throughout the event, which started at 9 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m.
Egg Harbor Township resident Ruby Lewis and her 7-year-old daughter, Reyna, were among those dropping off supplies at the event.
Ruby said she was lucky to have made it through the storm relatively unscathed and was happy to do what she could for the relief effort.
"We've been blessed with so much. (It's important) to just give back a little bit of what we've been blessed with," said Lewis, who lives in the Bargaintown section of the township. "I had so much stuff in my pantry, I said, 'Let me just put it to a good use.'"
It's important, Ruby said, that she be a good example to Reyna and her sons, Cole, 8, and Cruz, 7. If Reyna's excitement at the chance to give back is any indication, it seems her example is working.
"It helps out a lot of people that don't have anything, or a house or food or any clothes, or anything," Reyna said. "It makes me feel really good because it makes me feel like I'm doing a really big, grown-up thing."
The Community FoodBank accepts donations for the holiday turkey drive and its disaster relief efforts at its location at 6735 Black Horse Pike or any affiliated food pantry.
Contact Braden Campbell: