WEST ORANGE, NJ — Two local food drives—one community-wide endeavor and one through the West Orange Public LIbrary—are currently being held in support of the West Orange Holy Trinity Food Pantry, which provides grocery assistance to more than 150 families in town.

“We are always grateful for the support of the West Orange community,” said Trinity Food Pantry Administrator Cynthia Cumming. “We live in a town of caring people and we could not provide for people in need without their help.”

Community-Wide Food Drive

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The public is encouraged to participate in a community-wide fundraiser for the Holy Trinity Food Pantry through April 22, which is being run by West Orange residents Barry Geltzeiler, Steve Brodsky and Jarrett Seltzer.

Geltzeiler said he became involved in collecting food for the food pantry about nine years ago, when he heard the Pantry needed turkeys for Thanksgiving. In less than a week, using only Facebook, Geltzeiler collected 23 turkeys and has been hooked on helping others through the pantry ever since.

In August of 2017, Geltzeiler was made aware once again of a low volume of food at the pantry. This time, he and his friends, Brodsky and Seltzer, stepped up to help collect food.

Since then, the men, aptly self-dubbed “The Monday Night Crew,” have volunteered at the pantry on the last Monday of every month.

Geltzeiler said he has enjoyed getting to know the people they help at the pantry and that he, Seltzer and Brodsky often stop at the food store to pick up specific "favorite" items for certain clients they expect to see at the pantry while they are there.

“There is nothing like seeing a child’s eyes light up as you give them some Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops,” he said. “Volunteering at the pantry is a very rewarding way to help others."

West Orange Public Library “Food for Fines” Food Drive

The West Orange Public Library will be accepting “Food for Fines,” from now through April 13. Each non-perishable item brought to the library to pay off overdue library book fines will be worth the equivalent of $2 off late fees, or $2 toward a library card replacement fee.

All Food for Fines payments must be provided in person. In addition, the library will still require payment, or a new replacement copy, for lost or damaged items.

This is not the first time the West Orange library has collected for the Food Pantry, as the library collects food annually for the Food Bank during the winter holidays. However, while other libraries have hosted “Food for Fines” events in the past, this is the first time the West Orange Public Library is running this type of food drive.

“The idea of Food for Fines is not new to public libraries," said Library Director David Cubie. "It is fairly common, and a model that I think truly embodies the sense of collaborative service to the public our profession and the public library as the community hub embodies.”

Cubie added that since the library already collects food during the winter, the staff "thought this would be a great way to give people a break on fines, while doing something good for the community.”

“It is my understanding that food banks need more food in the summer to help out families who would otherwise be receiving food through school lunch programs,” he said.

There’s another reason why the library has embarked on this endeavor: April 7 to 13 is also National Library Week and National Volunteer Week.

“The Friends of the West Orange Public Library also wanted to do something to honor the service of volunteers,” said Cubie. “Without volunteers the library would have a much more difficult time operating. Volunteers help us with a variety of tasks including shelving and delivering materials to home-bound patrons who are unable to come into the library. Without volunteers, the library would literally and legally not be able to function, as the library board by law is entirely made up of volunteers.” 

Items needed right now for both food drives include the following:

  • Dry beans – Black, Pinto, Kidney and White
  • Canned Beans – Black, Pinto, Kidney, White, Baked and Chickpeas
  • Canned Veggies – Corn, Green Beans, Sweet Peas and Carrots 
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly – Grape and Strawberry
  • Rice – White, Brown and Yellow
  • Apple sauce (6-packs are ideal)
  • Fruit cups
  • Dry Pasta – Spaghetti, Macaroni, Rigatoni (white not whole wheat)
  • Jarred sauces (especially Ragu and Prego)
  • Cans of soup (especially Lentil and Chicken Noodle)
  • Ramen (chicken flavor)
  • Cereal (especially Corn Flakes, Apple Jacks, Honey Bunches of Oats, Frosted Flakes and Raisin Bran)
  • Coffee (both instant and regular drip, in small jars)
  • Mac and Cheese

Donors should drop all bags off at 118 Old Indian Road in front of the garage. If it’s raining, it is requested that participants drop bags off on the front porch.

Anyone who staples their name and phone number onto the donated bag(s) for the community-wide food drive will be entered in a drawing for a $50 gift card.

Anyone holding a local food drive or similar event is ecouraged to let us know by contacting jgsprgroup@gmail.com or dsantola@tapinto.net.