Last September, the ShopRite at English Creek in Egg Harbor Township donated $10,800 as part of the company's Partners in Caring initiative, which distributes the money among the food banks in a store's community.

Not wanting to simply duplicate last year's effort, the store this year set its goal at $13,200, a total the store is well on its way to reaching.

On Sept. 19, the store participated in the company-wide Help Bag Hunger event, for which organizer Maryann Martin invited distinguished members of the community to bag groceries for customers to raise awareness of the campaign. This is just one component of a broad effort that has seen the store once again emerge as one of the leading ShopRite locations in the area.

"We had a yard sale last weekend, we did very well with that," Martin said. "Over $700. We had a dunking machine for our managers to get in, that was very profitable too."

Other events held at ShopRite include a car wash and a two themed dinners held at the restaurant by the store's entrance. Cashiers also have been asked to solicit dollar donations from customers, which earn them entry into a raffle for a Kindle Fire and more.

Store clerk Linda Lambert said the response from the store's customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We've actually had a lot of support," Lambert said. "Of course, you get people that don't, but for the most part we had a lot of support with this program."

Among those who volunteered their time at the Help Bag Hunger event were Freeholders Frank Giordano and Frank Sutton, some members of the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, the Cardiff Volunteer Fire Company, and two Coast Guard units based in Mays Landing and Atlantic City.

Giordano, who teamed up with Cheneise Wright, AmeriCorps Vista coordinator at Richard Stockton College, to bag at the 40-plus items line, got into the spirit of the event. The novice bagger joked that he and his partner were the best volunteers in the store.

"We're the fastest baggers, don't tell the sergeants that though," Giordano said. "We categorize all our meats, our vegetables, our boxes, our cans and our bottles, so when they get home, they just have to put it into the refrigeration, into the pantry. I was well-trained."

The store will hold a car wash from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 28, whose proceeds will go toward the Partners in Caring effort. Martin said they will charge $5 per car.

Black Bear of the Black Forest, a deli product supplier that works exclusively with ShopRite, will sponsor three days of hot dog sales at the store, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 26-29. Community groups such as the Cardiff fire company will staff booths, keeping their profits from sales. ShopRite also will have a booth run by its staffers that will help the Partners in Caring effort.

Sept. 29 will be family day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature face-painting, balloon animals, ice cream treats, hot dogs and fried Oreos.

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