SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Helping those in need has been a consistent theme during the current pandemic. As a result, food pantries across the country are at their busiest, serving thousands of people who are suffering financially. To that end, JESPY House and its clients have been helping to feed the hungry by participating with Our Lady of Sorrows church in South Orange and the MEND Hunger Relief initiative.

   So how did JESPY’s participation in this effort begin? “I thought it could be a good project for our clients, families, and staff to get involved with to give back,” says Tara Roberts, JESPY’s Community Relations & New Business Initiatives Supervisor.

   As a nonprofit based in South Orange for more than 40 years, JESPY has been an integral part of the community and believes it is imperative to help its neighbors.

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   The starting point for this particular project came when Roberts read a local news story about the large number of cars in line at the church to receive boxes of food.  “After two weeks of participating with our clients, our friends from the fraternity at Seton Hall called and began working on our food collection efforts.”

   Twenty-one-year-old Michael Pacheco and 19-year-old Colin Popper are fraternity brothers with the school’s Delta Upsilon fraternity. Michael, a public relations major who will be a senior in the fall, says they want to be of service to others and dispel some of the stereotypes associated with fraternities.

   “We want to show as a fraternity that we’re willing to help other people rather than just being a fraternity that likes to party,” he explains. “I’m happy that we could help those in need and this is a good cause.”

   Popper will be junior in September and plans to become a social worker. “When I joined the fraternity in the spring, I wanted to get involved with JESPY,” he says. “When I first visited, I just loved the clients,  the people who work there, and what they do.”

   To date, JESPY, its clients, the fraternity and others who have contributed to their efforts have gathered more than 24 boxes and dozens of bags of food that included pasta, cereals, peanut butter, tuna, rice, canned fruit, and beans. Mend is an interfaith network comprised of 20 food pantries throughout Essex county. For more information, email info@mendnj.org or call 862-250-5216.

   JESPY House supports 260 clients with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities between the ages of 18 and 73. To learn more, log on to jespy.org.