Maplewoodian by Joe Strupp

Collum And McGehee Make Saturday Night Supermarket Spree a Puerto Rican Fundraiser

Collum And McGehee Make Saturday Night Supermaket Spree a Puerto Rican Fundraiser Credits: Joe Strupp

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - If you dropped by the Stop & Shop in South Orange Saturday night, you might have wondered who those people were roaming the store seeking donations and buying supplies for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico.

It was none other than South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and Maplewood Township Committeeman Frank McGehee.

The duo, who’d been together earlier in the evening at Above talking shop, had a spur of the moment idea to collect needed food and other groceries for those devastated by the storm.

Sign Up for E-News

“I was just driving over, thinking what is the way we can try and generate interest in helping Puerto Rico,” Collum recalled. “Seeing the mayor of San Juan on Fridaybegging for help, I wanted to do something. As a mayor, I really empathized with the situation.”

So, at about 8:45 p.m., Collum, McGehee and local activist Larry Hirsch showed up unannounced at the Valley Street supermarket, checked in with the manager and staffers, and hit the aisles to load up on canned goods, paper products and any other non-perishables to ship south to the island dwellers.

At the same time, Collum -- who has taken Facebook livestreaming to a high art form -- switched on her smartphone for a mini-telethon asking her followers to pitch in with goods or cash. (See it HERE.)

Many customers in the store who came upon the pair as they traversed the aisles in search of donation items also offered up contributions.

“We’re shopping for Puerto Rico, we’re shopping for Puerto Rico,” Collum could be heard announcing as she roamed the store, with McGehee alongside. “Let’s fill it up, let’s do it,” McGehee directed as they nearly emptied a shelf of Campbell’s Soup into one of many carts.

Like a scene out of the old Supermarket Sweep television show, the elected officials raced the carts up and down Stop & Shop’s aisles with determination.

Channeling their inner Jerry Lewis, both Collum and McGehee mixed requests for donations with a play-by-play of their food store surge on Facebook Live.

At one point, Collum was almost giddy about getting feminine hygiene products: “Tampons are always good, Frank.” She later made the serious point that they are “very important as women and young girls of Puerto Rico seek to recover, they are important for cleanliness.”

In the end, after about 90 minutes, the take was more than $4,826 in donations at the store and via Facebook to cover the groceries – at $3,198 – and the shipping cost for some half-dozen bulging carts of groceries. They will be sent via the South Orange UPS Store to a Florida site where collections are being made for further shipping to the devastated island.

“I want to personally thank each and every Maplewoodian and South Orange resident for their generosity from pledging to physically donated items as well as money,” McGehee said later. “I also would like to recognize the wonderful staff at Stop & Shop for their assistance. We are so humbled by the response of our great residents.”

The supplies were added into more donations made at the Hot Hot Hot Event Sunday celebrating South Orange’s designation by New Jersey Monthly as the “hottest” town in New Jersey.

Collum said the balance of $1,628 in donations was going to be spent on shipping costs. But then she heard from Temple Sharey-Tafilo of South Orange that they would pick up the tab to transport the items to the Caribbean.

Now Collum plans to spend the remaining funds on more supplies during a Costco visit this week.

“I'm so blown away by everyone's generosity!” Collum wrote on Facebook. “I told Frank McGehee in advance this could be a hit or miss opportunity and guess what? South Orange and Maplewood - we hit it out of the park and I'm just feeling overwhelmed and blessed to live in this community of incredibly generous and caring people.”

She added that all contributors would receive detailed receipts of their contributions and other specifics on what was raised and how.

Those wishing to further donate cash or supplies can do so at the South Orange UPS Store, 4 South Orange Ave.; or the South Orange Frame Shop, 6 Sloan St.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News


Village Coffee Sign Tweaks Starbucks, Clarus Twitter Trails, and School Shuffles

When Starbucks coffee opened in the new Clarus development complex at the former Maplewod Village post office site, some wondered what effect it might have on Village Coffee, the longtime java spot just down the street.

Village Coffee owner Ketan Patel sees no big impact as of yet and a visit to the shop finds the same customer traffic as usual.

One addition, however, is a sign posted at ...

Know Your Neighbor

October 6, 2017

For Desi, Cam, and Lily 

I am Puerto Rican. 

But, I have light skin and two blonde boys. I grew up in Upstate New York and now live in New Jersey, and have a very fortunate life. I am not the Puerto Rican portrait you might imagine.

During a college interview I was asked about my heritage and experiences with adversity.  I said then and can say to this day, ...

Supporting Diverse Learners: Statement from School Board Candidate Donna Smith

October 8, 2017

Supporting Diverse Learners

Our School District faces many challenges in serving diverse learners appropriately, but the Board has a duty to make sure it happens.

I believe there are three key ways that the Board can use its oversight to ensure that the needs of our diverse learners are met:

1. Implement Rigorous Monitoring of Special Education and Gifted & Talented Policies and ...

Statement on Common Sense Gun Laws by Vic DeLuca, Candidate for Re-Election to the Maplewood Township Committee.

After the Orlando nightclub massacre in June 2016, hundreds of SOMA people rallied in South Orange saying enough is enough and that we need Congressional action for common sense gun laws. What we got from Washington was cowardice.

Since that deadly June day, some 480 days ago, we've had 521 mass shootings in this country. And our elected leaders are telling us now is not the time to talk ...

Maplewood Police Blotter - 7 Thefts from Autos and 2 Vehicle Thefts Reported

October 16, 2017

October 10 - Shoplifting; At approximately 3:30 p.m. Wawa reported that a male left the building with several items without paying. Responding officers were able to locate the male a short distance away. The male, 51 year old Gregory Singleton of Union was arrested for shoplifting as well as an outstanding warrant.

October 10 - Malicious Damage; Sometime during the ...

South Orange Police Blotter - Seven Arrests Reported

South Orange Police Blotter as of October 6

Adult Arrest - Shoplifting - Henry Vance, a 31 year old Dover resident was arrested on Monday, September 25, at approximately 1:51 p.m. for shoplifting. Security officials at the Stop & Shop on Valley St. observed a subject place several items into a backpack and then leave the store without paying for them.  Security officials ...

SOMA Action Helps JESPY House Clients Register to Vote

October 9, 2017

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - JESPY House and SOMA Action co-sponsored two voter registration drives on Tuesday, October 3, to increase the number of JESPY clients who can vote in New Jersey’s upcoming elections.

JESPY House, which is based in South Orange, is a nonprofit organization which helps adults with learning and developmental disabilities to lead independent ...

Music, Food and Fun at the Third Annual Health & Harvest Fest in Maplewood {Photos}

MAPLEWOOD, NJ - The Third Annual Health & Harvest Fest was held on Saturday, October 7, hosted by the Springfield Avenue Partnership and the Maplewood Loves Wellness committee.

The outdoor event took place on the Gazebo grounds of the Hilton Library on Springfield Avenue, with a variety of activities for kids from pony rides to a petting zoo and bounce house. There was also a patch with ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, October 17, 10:30 AM

Seton Hall University, South Orange

Ryan Roa - It's Complicated

Arts & Entertainment

Tue, October 17, 6:00 PM

South Orange Elks, South Orange

Change a Child's Life: Free Community Information ...

Giving Back

Tue, October 17, 7:00 PM

Columbia High School Room D16, Maplewood

Janet Mandel: Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of ...

Arts & Entertainment


Wed, October 18, 10:30 AM

Seton Hall University, South Orange

Ryan Roa - It's Complicated

Arts & Entertainment

Donna Smith for BOE - one of hardest working members of our Board

October 16, 2017

I’m pleased to endorse Donna Smith for a second term of the Board of Education.

Donna has been involved with our public schools since 1998, first as a PTA mom and as a BOE member since 2015. Throughout her years of service, Donna has been an advocate for all children to have options and choices over their academic careers, in terms of subject matter and finding the course environment ...

Donna Smith - a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our students.

Donna Smith stands out in the crowded field of BOE candidates. She has a long and continuous history of service to SOMA schools. She knows our past and has a vision for our future. Donna is level-headed, reasonable, practical, thoughtful, and hard-working. Most importantly, Donna has demonstrated a fierce, consistent, commitment to improving the educational experience of all of our ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...

Livingston Christens New Saint Barnabas Medical Center Community Field

October 16, 2017

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The multipurpose turf field recently installed on Madonna Drive for the benefit of Livingston recreation and high school athletes of all ages and sports was officially unveiled as the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Community Field on Monday.

Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein, members of the Livingston Township Council, Livingston High School Athletic Director David ...

Newark is Christie's Top Pick for Amazon Bid

NEWARK, NJ - Newark is one step closer to becoming Amazon’s next headquarters.

The city has been selected by Gov. Chris Christie as the state’s endorsed recommendation to be the Seattle-based retail giant’s next corporate headquarters, according to a report in ROI-NJ.

Newark now joins more than 50 municipalities nationwide that are formally bidding on ...

Cops Arrest 4 After Stolen Car Crashes Through Fence in Westfield

October 15, 2017

WESTFIELD, NJ - Around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, a stolen car left the roadway and crashed on the 1200 block of Central Avenue, according to Westfield Police Chief David Wayman. Four males excited the vehicle and fled on foot, he said.

Photos taken by the home's owner show that the car crashed through a fence and into the bushes.

The car was not being pursued by police at the time, ...

Armed Carjacking Occurred in Clark Wednesday Morning, Police Say

CLARK, NJ — Clark Police Chief Pedro Matos has confirmed there was a carjacking in the early hours before dawn on Wednesday on the 900 block of Lake Avenue.

According to Matos a man arrived home at approximately 4:30 a.m. and as he sat in his car two men, each with handguns, approached the sides of the vehicle and ordered the victim out. The suspects took some of the ...

Mahopac’s Frank Lloyd Wright House Back on the Market

October 12, 2017

MAHOPAC, NY — If you have about $15 million to spare, you can own the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home, which comes with its own island, on Lake Mahopac.

The iconic home, once rumored to have been purchased by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt (those rumors were false), is back on the market with a selling price of $14,920,000.

The sale is being handled by high-end real estate brokers ...

Adria Gross to Present "Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems" at Millburn Library

October 16, 2017

Do you need help navigating insurance after a major medical issue? Insurance is complicated, and there's not a roadmap. It can be overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting, particularly if you don't know how to maneuver through the difficult insurance market.

Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems is a guide to support people when they are facing denied, out-of-network, ...

Guilty Verdict in Fatal Newark Shooting

NEWARK, NJ - Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced that an Essex County jury has convicted Kanem Williamson, 22, of Newark of aggravated manslaughter for shooting a woman at the Bradley Court housing community in Newark.

Following a trial before the Honorable Siobhan Teare, Judge of the Superior Court, Williamson was convicted today of aggravated manslaughter, a ...

Weekly Specials at Ashley Marketplace & Cafe-October 13 to October 19

Shop Ashley Marketplace & Cafe for your everyday needs!

This week's specials are:

Whole Branzino  $6.99lb (Ashley Fish Market)
Avocado 2/$5
Chicken Curry Salad $6.98lb (Prep Food)
Dannon Activia Yog 4pk 2/$5
Chairman’s Reserve Hot or Sweet Pork Sausage $4.99lb (Meat)
Jones Sausage Links 2/$6(Frozen)
Salami Sandwich Hero $5.99(Deli)
Notre Dame Brie ...