EDISON, NJ - The South Edison Community Association collected 23 truckloads of non-perishable food for the “Hands of Hope” food pantry and it raised $25,000 in direct donations to help feed the growing number of local needy people and families.

“Our weekend food drive was a tremendous success to restock Hands of Hope,” said organizer Anthony Russomanno. “It shows the amazing strength of community unity. We can meet any challenge and accomplish any goal by working together.”

The South Edison Community Association (SECA) got support for Saturday’s food drive from two dozen civic groups, schools, churches and unions. “We brought together Christians, Jews and Muslims; Asian and Asian-Indian neighbors; corporate executives and small business owners; Republicans and Democrats; police and firefighters; and teachers and environmentalists,” Russomanno said. “That’s really terrific.”

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Middlesex County Freeholder Charles Tomaro, a long-time Hands of Hope volunteer and board member, said the “generous outpouring of community support filled pantry shelves and our storage units.”

SECA also delivered six pallets of non-perishable food to the Middlesex County Food Bank (McFoods) in East Brunswick to be shared with 130 other countywide food pantries, churches and non-profits. “We are proud that Edison’s kindness will also help needy families in our neighboring towns,” Russomanno said.

Among the most notable contributions to Hands of Hope: Congregation Ohr Torah families donated seven truckloads of non-perishable foods; Cedric Varasteh, CEO of USTC Corp. in Raritan Center, personally gave $15,000 to the food bank and another $15,000 to McFoods; Lions Sales, in Edison, donated 500 jars of pasta sauce to Hands of Hope plus 1,000 more jars to McFoods; businessman Thomas J. Swales IV donated $5,000; and the Knights of Columbus at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church contributed $2,000.

Hands of Hope has also received financial pledges from Edison PBA Local 75, Edison Firefighters Local 1197, Edison FOP Lodge 101 and other local civic organizations. Peter Visceglia, president of Federal Business Centers, also donated $2,500 to help SECA continue its charitable work.

Hands of Hope provides bags of nourishing food to over 4,000 needy Edison-area households, including senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities. It annually provides hot lunches to 4,500 people; and distributes 300-350 turkeys and food bags at Thanksgiving and Christmas; plus it serves over 500 meals at Easter.

Partnering with SECA for the food dive were: AFSME Local 12, BAPS Temple, Boy Scout Troop 12, Congregation Ohr Torah, Edison Democratic Organization, Edison Firefighters IAFF Local 1197, Edison FOP Lodge 101; Edison Italian American Club; Edison PBA Local 75 and Superior Officers Association; Edison Police Auxiliary, Edison Public Schools, the Edison Republican Organization, Edison Township Education Association (ETEA), Indian Business Association (IBA), local Knights Of Columbus Councils, Masjid Al Wali Mosque, OPEIU Local 32, Re-Purpose NJ, the South Asian Community Organization, Teamsters Local 469, Edison Wetlands Association and UAW Local 2620.

Learn more about Hands of Hope at https://handsofhopenj.org. Contributions by check or money order may be made to Hands of Hope, NJ; P.O. Box 1057, Edison, NJ 08818.

Learn more about South Edison Community Association at www.SouthEdisonCommunityAssociation.com. To volunteer, call (732) 261-7172 or email SouthEdisonCommunityAssoc@gmail.com.