PATERSON and UNION CITY, NJ - Keeping up their tradition of giving back to the community, IBEW Local 827’s Hudson unit hosted its annual Thanksgiving food drive throughout the first part of November. With demand for food higher than ever at food pantries union members doubled their efforts and made donations to two pantries this year. 

On Thursday more than 12,000 pounds of food were dropped off at the Father English Food Pantry in Paterson while a delivery of six pallets of food made their way to the Brian Stack Food pantry on Friday. 

“In early March we raised over $5,000 for earthquake victims in Puerto Rico, then COVID hit and we pivoted by raising money to donate thousands of lunches to our hospital healthcare heroes, and now here we are in November helping feed so many others,” IBEW Business Agent Tom Kelly said. “We’re extremely fortunate to work in an industry that is doing well during the pandemic and our members feel obligated to help others when they can. Many of them already donate their time as volunteer EMTs, Firemen, coaches, etc. and now with these troubling times they’ve taken it to another level. It’s humbling to be a part of.” 

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The members of the union Kelly oversees work for Verizon installing and repairing phone, internet and data services (FIOS) in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties. Kelly also thanked Verizon management for supporting the effort, singling out Sean Coffey, Verizon’s Director of Operations for Northern New Jersey for helping make the donations successful.

“Our partnership with the IBEW has not only benefited our communities, it has benefited everyone involved. To be able to work together to help others has become a calling for both groups,” Coffey said. “We’re in a unique position during these trying times to help and Tom, along with his Chief Stewards Andy Newman and Pat Glover and his stewards with our area and local managers have really made a difference.”

“When you hear about the sheer volume of people using the food pantries it’s overwhelming and it makes you want to do more,” Coffey said, concluding that “working together these teams will.”  

Kelly shared that the enthusiasm his members had for helping others was almost overwhelming and that they were already making plans for what they could do in the future. “I had to tell them to stop and enjoy this moment, then move on to the next.”

“You can see some of them are itching to help more and it’s a beautiful thing.”

Kelly and Coffey were both quick to take the attention off themselves and share their respect for the men and women running the food pantries. 

“It’s a herculean heroic effort on their part. We make our donation and move on,” the pair said. Those running the pantries have to continually “think about tomorrow and scramble to find donations for the next day and the day after and on and on.”

“They are true heroes.”

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