NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - For some residents, the best Christmas gift they got this year was a hot meal at Elijah's Promise.
The best gift the community kitchen got came from longtime volunteer-turned-Santa Claus.
When the refrigerator recently began to malfunction - the gaskets on the door were shot, so the door wouldn't stay closed - Ronald Struminger sprung into action.
Struminger, a local business owner, went out and purchased a new Beverage-Air Horizon Series Two Section Dual Temperature Reach-In Refrigerator. On wheels, of course.
It sort of saved Christmas for the community kitchen at 18 Neilson St. that serves more than 100,000 meals a year. The dozens of patrons who stopped in for a hot Christmas lunch can thank Struminger for saving the day, if not Christmas.
"I did some research and I took some measurements," said Struminger. "Chef Curtis (McNair) is very particular with what he wants in that kitchen. He told me he wanted a refrigerator that could hold seven to eight shelves on each side, double doors. I went and did my research and found a place that offers next-day delivery. Didn't expect it, but it was actually delivered the next day."
When he's not spending several thousands of dollars on a new refrigerator, Struminger is helping Elijah's Promise in other ways. The owner of JLS Professional Management company keeps the kitchen stocked with cups, paper plates and other products it needs on a daily basis. He became so involved, he became a member of the board at the kitchen.
His favorite way of contributing to Elijah's Promise, however, is by volunteering his time to cook.
Every Thursday he shows up at 7:30 a.m. with a couple of dozen donuts and some sandwiches for the other volunteers and a big smile on his face.
Struminger rolls up his sleeves and gets cooking. He grabs whatever is in the fridge, be it beef, sausage, venison or something else, and starts making that day's lunch.
"They do compliment me on the chicken," the East Brunswick resident said. "I have a rosemary chicken recipe that I make. I take chicken, add spices and olive oil, mix it around and then I bake it."
Struminger is also active in supporting the New Brunswick Police Department. Last week, the NBPD posted photos on social media of officers bringing gifts to children at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and St. Peter's Hospital that Struminger helped purchase.
Struminger also contributes to the police department's annual charity golf tournament.
Struminger said he was taught to give back by his parents who immigrated to the United States from Romania in the 1960s.
"They always taught me that the two most important things in your life are education and giving back to the community," he said.