ROXBURY, NJ – Patty Turner is a nurse, but one employed by a wound care company, not at a hospital.

So, when the coronavirus mayhem began, she was able to keep working from home. It was safe, but it left the Hopatcong resident feeling frustrated.

“I felt very hopeless and useless, being able to work from the comfort of home and still get paid,” she said. Soon, the urge to help fellow nurses and other medical workers battling COVID-19 grew too big to ignore.

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When some colleagues talked about collecting money to buy food for hospital workers, Turner found what she needed. “That’s where it all started,” she said. “I just felt very compelled by the idea.”

Turner got some friends and family to donate cash. She used the money to buy breakfasts and lunches from some Roxbury eateries, and she used her spare time to deliver the meals to area hospitals.

She calls her effort “Feed the Fight,” and she’s bought and delivered about $1,500 worth of food since the last week of March.

“The first thing was just for a group of nurses I worked with,” Turner said. “After that, it was very successful and very well-received.”

Those wishing to donate to Feed the Fight can do so through PayPal. Turner’s account email is pattyrnnj@yahoo.com.

A Cadre of Seamstresses

Turner is one of many women in the Roxbury area using their time, ambition, talent and generosity to help others these days. For example, a small contingent of ladies armed with sewing machines and the skill to operate them, has been creating masks from their homes.

The masks are being donated to local organizations by Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, a Roxbury resident and the wife of Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo.

Each week, like a bee gathering pollen, DeFillippo zips around to the homes of the mask makers. She finds bags of the handmade creations hanging on doorknobs or mailboxes.

“It’s really been neat,” DeFillippo said. “Everybody is social distancing … I tell them I’m going to be there on Tuesday and Friday. I grab the bags and throw them in the trunk of my car.”

Usually accompanied by her husband, DeFillippo then motors the masks to their destinations, which tend to be non-profit groups and other “community providers.”

One of the Roxbury mask makers is Roxbury Councilwoman Jaki Albrecht. Learning that masks were hard to find, Albrecht got busy.

“I broke out my sewing stash of fabrics, I looked online for a nice pattern and I got to work,” she said. Albrecht estimates she’s made more than 300 so far.

“I love to sew,” she noted. “I am very grateful to be able to use my talents to help keep Roxbury safe and I'll continue to sew until I run out of fabric.”

DeFillippo said she “didn’t inherit the sewing gene.” She said she marvels at the speed and creativity of the other women in her virus-fighting cartel who do know their way around a bobbin: Anne Gale, Taimi Reip, Dody Walker, Patty DeFilippis, Corinna Rita and Rorie Doty.

Several of her suppliers are members of the Roxbury Women's Club, as is DeFillippo. She said she’s willing to take on more, noting that anybody who wants to join can contact her at kdefillippo@co.morris.nj.us

Moved to Go Shopping

Aside from organized efforts, there have been many cases of random acts of kindness by people wanting to help.

For example, after hearing last week about the Roxbury Social Services Food Pantry’s need for supplies, Andrea Rodriguez decided to go shopping. Rodriguez, second vice-president of the Roxbury Area Chamber of Commerce, ended up delivering a car-load of goods to Roxbury Social Services on Friday morning.

Social Services is in need of many items including pudding cups, canned fruit, liquid dish soap, diapers, paper towels, cooking oil, syrup, conditioner, salsa, side dishes, powdered milk and sweet cereal.

People can also donate $10 gift cards for ShopRite and $15 gift cards for Walmart.

Drop-offs of donations can be made Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon.

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