UNION COUNTY, NJ - ​The Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen is more than a hall where the working poor of the Union County area can gather for a warm, nutritious meal on a weekly basis. It is a family that seeks to welcome guests into its warmth and make them feel at home, especially during the holidays when hunger and homelessness appear in its starkest form.

The soup kitchen boasted another successful Christmas spectacular on Sunday, Dec 20. The Food Emporium in Garwood donated 140 boxes of assorted cookies for guests to take with them to celebrate the holidays.

The Cranford Jaycees were also present to assist with the festivities. For about four years, the group has helped with delivering toys and clothing through the Union County area in conjunction with the Cranford Police Department and Fire Department. This year, they have collected about 1,000 total toys for various churches and organizations, including Toys for Tots and the Overlook Hospital pediatric burn unit. On Dec 20, various clothing, including hats and scarves provided by the Cranford Jaycees in conjunction with Target in Clark, were available for guests to sort through and take. Each guest was also allowed to take home one donated toy, ranging from Star Wars toys to dolls.

Sign Up for E-News

The Cranford High School Madrigal Choir, led by Anthony Rafaniello, performed Christmas carols, including having some of the guests join in on the fun. Finally, Santa visited, handing out toys to the children and taking pictures.

Guests enjoyed a bountiful meal of barbeque chicken, salad, stuffing, oranges, cake from Pinho's Bakery in Roselle, buttered bread, chocolate Santas, and candy canes.

On Christmas Day, the soup kitchen was again in full swing. Sixty-four guests arrived and dined on a meal of macaroni and cheese, while enjoying the welcoming company.

The soup kitchen accepts donations of socks, full size bars of soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, deodorant, wash cloths, face towels, other basic essentials and funding. The First Presbyterian Church of Cranford acts as their drop point. Wands comments that she always sends thank-you cards.

To donate to the Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen, contact the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford at 908-276-8440.

The Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen, at 402 Union Ave, Elizabeth, began March 12, 1989 as a simple idea – Why can’t a group of people put a few sandwiches together and invite some of the hungry in for lunch? Now, the strictly-volunteer soup kitchen has more than 100,000 hot meals to the financially distressed in the Elizabeth area.

Their basic objective is to provide nutritious meals that one would find at home in a friendly atmosphere while educating volunteers, many of them children, about teamwork and how to care for their fellow man.