MONTVILLE, NJ – When a group of friends, neighbors and relatives got together, the result is a program that has fed hundreds of frontline workers and offered a nourishing, hot meal to people who are feeling the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rob Zwigard of East Hanover; his friend Ted Stanziale, and Stanziale’s neighbor Chris Mazzarella both of Parsippany; Stanziale’s cousin Nick Kraus of Mendham; and Kraus’ co-worker Justine Roche of Morristown; and Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo of Montville started a group called Frontline Morris on March 22 which has raised more than $60,000 and fed hundreds of employees at eight local hospitals, first aid squads, plus at-risk youth and at the St. Peter’s Orphanage in Denville. Recently they brought meals to the NJ Firemen’s Home, the Montville Township Police Department, the Montville Township First Aid Squad and the Montville Township Health Department and Office of Emergency Management. With Montville’s Leonidas Foundation, they recently brought meals to the Bonnie Brae School.
Originally the group had set a goal of $50,000 for their GoFundMe, but donations surpassed that, with $1,600 raised in the first 18 hours. So recently the group increased their goal to $75,000, Zwigard said. The page was at more than $60,000 on May 1.
“We want to purchase the food from the restaurants we’re using, but they often insist on donating their meals,” Zwigard said. “Plus, sometimes, organizations come to us with the thought to donate directly to the facility we’re helping. For example, we brought meals to the Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter – they’re at capacity – and an organization wanted to make a donation directly to the JBWS. So we’re actually north of $70,000 in donations when you figure that in.”
Dignitaries like Sheriff James Gannon and Sen. Anthony Bucco joined the group for deliveries at places such as the Firemen’s Home (Gannon and Bucco), the orphanage (Bucco), and the Montville Police with food from Towaco’s Red Barn Restaurant (Mastrangelo). The group also credited Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce for putting them in touch with Village Pharmacy in Succasana so they could purchase $1,500 in personal protective equipment for the Parsippany Police Department and Parsippany EMS.
Homeless Solutions, the Lake Hiawatha and Parsippany post offices, many police departments and the state trooper barracks in Netcong as well as eight area hospitals have benefitted from the meals, and the group will be adding funeral homes to the mix as well.
“Nobody thinks about funeral home staff, but they have it tough and they are very busy, too,” Zwigard said.
On Sunday, May 3, made a special delivery to the hospitals with 1,000 carnations and hundreds of homemade thank you cards because it is National Nurses’ Week, so they wanted to add something special to their meal delivery.
Mastrangelo says that working together is the best way to get through the pandemic.
“This group is an example of how the collaboration of people working together so we can get through this as a county and do anything to raise people’s spirits is who we are as Americans,” he told TAPinto Montville. “I’ve enjoyed doing it. You see the smiles on people’s faces – both the restaurateurs and at the drop-offs – and they’re thanking us. We’re like, ‘No! Don’t thank us – thank you!’ I think everyone has stepped up pretty well.”
To request a meal, volunteer or offer your restaurant’s services, go to Feed the Front Line
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