HAMILTON, NJ --  With COVID-19 continuing to spread across New Jersey, a group of local community activists came together to create the Front-Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) Hamilton Chapter. To date, FLAG of Hamilton has provided more than 1,000 meals to health care teams at five regional hospitals, crisis centers and pharmacies. And they're continuing to grow to provide meals to health care teams and first responders. 

Started in March by Morris County residents Liz Benich and Gina Macquire, FLAG now has more than 60 chapters nationwide and has raised more that $100,000. The FLAG Hamilton Chapter was launched earlier this month by long-time Hamiltonian and community activist Megan O'Donnell and Hamilton restaurateur John Balsamo, owner of Villagio Iccara. 

“This is a win-win for both our front line heroes, who deserve and need good meals during their shifts, as well as our local restaurants, who have been significantly impacted by this pandemic,” said O’Donnell.  

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FLAG Hamilton Chapter has raised almost $10,000 to cover the costs of the more than 1,000 meals that are primarily provided by Villaggio Iccara, Jersey Girl Cafe, Classic Sub Shop, and Heirloom Catering Company.  More than $6,000 of these donations have covered the costs of the food which also helps these restaurants financially while their doors are closed to traditional customers. 

Meals have been provided to health teams working at five hospitals -- Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas, Capital Health Medical Center, Capital Health Regional Medical Center, St. Francis Medical Center, and Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center. 

“Initially, we planned on focusing on one hospital, but we have expanded to support three different hospitals and medical centers, recognizing the need to fuel the body and spirit of our front line heroes all around our community," said O'Donnell.  "Meals have also been delivered to the Mercer County COVID-19 testing locations, local pharmacies, fire and police stations.

"The number of people we are able to help each day is 100 percent dependent upon how much we raise in donations. New Jersey is being impacted greatly and donating is an easy way everyone can help our front-line heroes from the safety of their homes,” O’Donnell added. 

Click here to donate to FLAG's efforts. More information is available through the FLAG Hamilton Facebook page. 

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