ROXBURY, NJ – When the wave of holiday gifts and food began to arrive at Roxbury Social Services, Alana Hayford found herself awestruck. Now that it's over, she's still amazed at the generosity she witnessed.
Hayford this year became the department's assistant director. She knew, before taking the job, that Roxbury was home to many good people and organizations, she said. But nothing could prepare her for the extent of that generosity.
"I'm shocked," Hayford said. "I don’t know the proper words. I am just ... I'm shocked. It's unbelievable the amount of people who come in here and say, 'Whatever you need.'"
So Hayford on Wednesday, took a moment – on behalf of herself and Roxbury Social Services Director Janet Wald – to offer a message to the people and organizations that donated.
"We want to thank the community of Roxbury for all of their help and support through this holiday season," she said in a statement. "Honestly there are so many people to thank ... I'm not sure where to begin. Since this was my first Thanksgiving and Christmas working at Social Services it was very new to me and I can't begin to explain how overwhelmed I was with everyone's generosity. It was amazing!"
If she wanted to be astounded, Hayford picked the right year to take the Social Services job. She said 2016 just might have been a record-breaker in terms of donations.
"Many of the volunteers that have been here for years said this year, by far, there was the most toys and the most food that was donated," Hayford said. "Being my first year, it was overwhelming, it really was, to see so many people, groups, families and churches come out and help."
There are about 300 families in Roxbury that qualify for, and rely on, Social Services for temporary shelter, food, supplies and holiday gifts, Hayford said, adding "It's surprising how many people in our own town can use assistance."