SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Three groups of residents who came together during the pandemic to help others were called COVID-19 Heroes, and were honored as September Villagers of the Month at last week's Board of Trustees meeting. 

FLAG (Front Line Appreciation Group) of South Orange and Maplewood, SOMA NJ 3D PRINTERS ALLIANCE, and SOMa Sewing Volunteers each received their own proclamations for service rendered to South Orange and the wider community in the past six months.

These are shining examples that we are stronger together, and we are honored to present them with the Villager of the month recognition because they are truly the people that our town wants to honor and the kind of people that I am inspired by and want to emulate,” said Village President Sheena Collum.

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South Orange residents Ava Martin, Barbara Santoro, and Roshni Patel organize FLAG with more than 1,300 members. They rallied donations to feed local first responders and health care workers. The purchase of the meals also helped support the local restaurants who participated at a time when other sales were slim.

SOMA NJ 3D Printers Alliance, with founders/members Jacob Ezzo, Zubin Guha, Nino Badridze, Jesse Busch, Devyani Guha, Irene Langloi, Mark Litwin, Jim Myracle, Luke Nunn, Brad Schenker, Kevin Wadsworth, and Christina Wright, created and delivered 47,712 face shields, 14,645 ear savers, and supported 39 hospitals and included the distribution of face shields to South Orange EMS, Police and Fire Departments. 

Alba Hochman, Jean Ng-Gilio, Maria Sensenic, and Tina Kelley coordinated more than 517 volunteers for the SOMa Sewing Volunteers. The group made and donated 30,000 masks to hospitals and non-profit organizations including 1,000 to the Navajo Nation.

The result of the volunteers' effort "continues to be a huge example of what our community is capable of [when] working together. So thank you to so many volunteers," said Trustee Summer Jones while reading the proclamations.

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