LIVINGSTON, NJ — The number of Livingston residents, organizations and businesses stepping up to assist those in need during the global health crisis is increasing daily, with the latest services focusing on local senior citizens, who are considered among the most at risk of contracting novel coronavirus COVID-19.
After ShopRite of Livingston announced on Wednesday that it is now offering “seniors only” shopping from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. as well as delivery services through ShopRite from Home, the township also announced that transportation resources for grocery shopping and medical appointments are now available through Livingston’s Senior, Youth & Leisure Services (SYLS) in partnership with Essex County.
Seniors can coordinate transportation both to and from either ShopRite or Kings Food Market between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on weekdays by calling the SYLS office at (973) 535-7925. Until March 30, callers should not dial Livingston’s regular Senior Transportation number, as the program has been temporarily suspended along with all other township events, programs and activities. Residents must call before 2 p.m. to request transportation for the following day.
“I know there are many wonderful people in town who have volunteered to shop for our seniors,” said Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez. “If you reach out [to any township council member] with the name, phone number and Email address of anyone wishing to volunteer, we will forward that information to our SYLS Department to match them with a senior.”
Residents can also request help for any senior resident of Livingston who has limited ability in obtaining groceries or essential supplies, contact township social worker Ana Millan at 973-535-7961 ext. 231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the week since the Livingston Public Schools district announced that it would be implementing its newly developed remote learning program, several individuals, organizations and businesses like ShopRite have come up with creative ways to give back to the community during this unprecedented time of crisis.
“It’s definitely not surprising to hear about all of these residents who are stepping up,” said Fernandez. “Livingston is a community that always comes together no matter what in times of need—whether it was during Hurricane Sandy or other things that have affected our community. We expect nothing less, and we appreciate the businesses that are stepping up and assisting others and the volunteer organizations and individuals throughout the entire community that are doing the same.”
Neeli Berger Margolis, administrator of the “LTown Lowdown” community Facebook group, and fellow resident Mindy Glass Scherago are spearheading an initiative they’ve dubbed “Ltown E-Pals,” which works in partnership with Livingston’s Friendship Circle to recruit local children and young adults to provide daily virtual interaction with seniors or other individuals in isolation.
“We are very concerned about the emotional impact of isolation that many of our senior and immuno-compromised residents will be experiencing in the coming weeks,” said Margolis. “We also have many teens and younger students who are home and looking for something productive and empowering to do with their time…We will get through this together one neighbor at a time.”
In addition to volunteers, Ltown E-Pals is also currently in need of social workers or other professionals to create handouts of “conversation starters” for a variety of age groups to be shared with participants. All communications will be done remotely via FaceTime, video conferencing, telephone or text.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in this operation or knows someone who might like to be paired with a volunteer is encouraged to contact Ltownepals@gmail.com with the following information:
For volunteers: Child’s name, age/grade, phone number and/or Email address (if applicable), parent’s name, parent’s phone number and/or Email address, preferred means of electronic communication and child’s preferred contact information for virtual contact.
For those seeking to be partnered with a volunteer: Name, phone number and/or Email address and preferred means of electronic communication.
Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN), which has been providing assistance to local families in need since it was established in 2016 and also runs Livingston’s CHOW food pantry, is looking to assist those in need as well, but is currently anticipating an even greater need than usual amid the health crisis.
In the last week alone, LNHN has received two emergency requests for financial assistance due to work being shut down and has delivered food to six LNHN families as well as a single mother of two who was newly referred through LPS. An emergency fund has been established in order to assist with the increased demand.
“The need is already increasing, and we are working with our township social worker to assess on a case-by-case basis, but it is clear emergency dollars will be needed,” LNHN posted on its social media pages. “Thank you in advance. We are constantly reminded at what an incredible community Livingston is, [and] we are incredibly thankful.”
Livingston students are also stepping up to assist where they can in between their online classes.
Livingston High School (LHS) freshman Anusha Bansal, for instance, who has launched an online campaign to “help a fraction of millions of children who rely on school meals but are not getting them due to COVID-19.” All donations for her virtual food drive are tax-deductible, and proceeds will go directly toward the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
“Our country can use our help in providing basic nutritional needs to thousands of kids out there,” said Bansal. “I've only asked for $2,000 to start with, not knowing how the response will be; but this campaign is open to any donations above and beyond.”
Bansal’s donation page, which states that children “can suffer direct and dramatic effects on their physical development and mental well-being” when they don’t have enough food, can be found BY CLICKING HERE.
LHS students with cars as well as college students who are currently home from school have been among the many residents who have offered to pick up prescriptions, food or any other necessary items for the elderly in the community. Other community members have also offered to help parents understand their children’s school assignments as they continue through the remote-learning process.
A simple search on any community Facebook group will help community members find the assistance they need.
Earlier this week, employees from PuroClean of Morristown—a water damage restoration company that has established coronavirus cleanup service in order to provide professional, deep mitigation cleaning for essential properties—visited the Livingston Police Department this week to help sanitize the department’s gym in order to keep it “safe for those who come to work and risk it all for us,” the service posted on its Facebook page along with videos.
Also this week, the Livingston Public Library (LPL), although closed to the public, announced that it is currently working to increase its digital content offerings for all ages. Popular titles have been added to the library’s Overdrive / Libby e-Library and the monthly checkout limit for Hoopla Digital has been increased to 15.
“Social distancing during this tumultuous time is important, but it can also be difficult,” said LPL Director Amy Babcock Landry. “So many of us lead busy lifestyles, and having extra time at home can easily become isolating and overwhelming. To help keep your mind occupied, we have taken steps to make sure we are providing as much digital content as we can.”
Livingston residents have also regularly encouraged neighbors to support local businesses, such as ordering takeout or delivery from local restaurants or purchasing gift certificates to use at a later date in order to ensure that retailers continue to have regular income during this trying time.
The list of restaurants currently offering takeout and deliver continues to grow. The following restaurants are currently modifying their services to allow for safe pickup and deliveries:
- Mezza Livingston — (973) 992-9300
- Anthony Marra’s Restaurant & Pizzeria — (973) 992-8911
- Tony Boys Sandwich House — (973) 994-1089
- Turano’s Pizza Kitchen — (973) 758-8111
- Master Pizza — (973) 992-4500
- Nana’s Deli — (973) 740-1940
- Assado Steakhouse — (973) 422-0501
- Frutta Bowls — (973) 845-2695
- Seymour’s — (973) 992-1763
- Jerusalem Restaurant — (973) 533-1424 (also offering at-home “pizza-making” kits)
- Cocco Bello — (973) 992-1999
- Ike’s Bagel Café — (973) 369-7528
- The Twisted Tulip — (973) 369-7142
- Jim Johnston’s Steakhouse — (973) 228-2457
- Argyle Marketplace — (973) 992-1659
TAPinto Livingston joins in encouraging the community to support local merchants during this time and will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.
In addition to the direct assistance being provided to those affected by the virus, school and business closings, etc., residents have also expressed concern about any individuals who might be quarantined in a home where they do not feel safe and urged those individuals to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) by calling 1-800-799-7233 or directly messaging the NDVH Facebook page for live help.