PATERSON, NJ - Friday, May 8, was a day to remember for 200 families who received Chromebooks and grocery gift cards from NJCDC! The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to those we serve, and through surveying neighborhood residents, we found their two biggest needs are food and access to technological devices.

Low-income families, such as those in our neighborhood, often have to cut back on how much they eat, or skip meals altogether on some days, in order to pay rent and other bills. While many experts recommend stocking two weeks' worth of food as a best practice, this is nearly impossible for many of the families we serve.

And though Internet access and a home computer are crucial these days, many of the families and youth we serve are unable to afford electronic devices and Internet subscriptions. Unfortunately, this means they have difficulty participating in the youth programs, educational services, and supportive services that NJCDC is offering virtually, and also can't access the same resources as their peers from more affluent communities.

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Thanks to funding from generous donors, we were able to give 200 Chromebooks and $20,000 in grocery gift cards to 200 of the 1,000 families who applied for these crucial items at our Great Falls Youth Center on Friday, May 8.

The day was even more special as it also marked CEO Bob Guarasci's birthday! What a great present for him to be able to once again show the generosity and passion to build a stronger Paterson that hs guided his entire career!

Guarasci agreed saying that while it was an "unsual" birthday it was his best one yet.

:There is no way I'd rather spend my birthday than by giving Chromebooks and grocery gift cards to those who need them. They are an enormous help to families who are struggling with food insecurity and to students who are struggling to learn without the devices and Internet access they need. We're enormously grateful to our generous funders who have made this possible, and hope more people will consider making a donation to help those in need during this devastating time."

These families were randomly chosen from the numerous residents who completed NJCDC's COVID-19 Survey. In addition, we connected the recipients with free and low-cost Internet access at our giveaway event, where NJCDC staff and volunteers safely distributed the Chromebooks and PriceRite gift cards.

We are currently raising money to do another round of Chromebook and grocery gift card distribution to help even more people during this difficult time. All gifts will be matched, up to $50,000. Please click here to donate.

"The chromebook enabled our special needs daughter to access her much-needed speech therapy this morning via Zoom without the technical difficulties that have prevented her from fully participating since the shutdown started," C.B. Spira, one of the parents that participated in the giveaway told NJCDC a few days after the event. "Now that school has been officially canceled for the remainder of the year we will be relying on the device daily for her therapy and school sessions. The grocery card will help us provide nourishing food for our family now that our income has been impacted by the shutdown."

David Gelman, NJCDC's Chief Program Officer said, "We are grateful to several generous sponsors who made this community support possible for program participants and Patersonians. We quickly learned that access to reliable technology and healthy food options are two major obstacles during the pandemic for those we serve. We hope we can continue to partner with these wonderful organizations to keep the momentum going and support even more children and families."NJCDC CEO Bob Guarasci said,Again, there is still time to help be part of our next event. Please click here to donate. Any amount will help.


Shared with permission from NJCDC