BASKING RIDGE, NJ - Basking Ridge sisters Nikayla Karda-Marok (16), a sophomore at Ridge High School, and Adalia Karda-Marok (11), a fifth grader, have raised over $10,000 to feed healthcare workers and first responders. This sister act was inspired by their friends Navleen (17) and Raj (14) Boparai, who founded the "Meals for Heroes" program out of Hillsborough.
The Boparai brother sister duo founded "Meals for Heroes" on March 27 to provide meals to medical staff at seven hospitals, other health-related agencies and police departments in New Jersey and New York. In so doing, they're also helping support restaurants, pizzerias and other food establishments that have been hit hard by closures by the COVID-19 restrictions and must now rely on take-out orders.
Nikayla and Adalia held their own "Meals for Heroes" fundraiser in Basking Ridge on March 28. "We were really inspired by what Navleen and Raj were doing and they allowed us to make a Basking Ridge branch. In just one week we were able to raise $10,000," said Nikayla.
"We have such supportive friends and family group," she said. In addition, they formed business partnerships with The Seventh Taste Catering Company, as well as Priscilla's Pantry, Cafe Rustica and Anthony's Cafe, she said. "We are so grateful to them for providing the meals."
The girls have been delivering meals for the past two weeks to multiple different hospitals. To date, more than 700 meals have been delivered to hospitals, long term care facilities, VA, doctors' offices, pharmacies, urgent care locations, rehabilitation facilities, and the Police Department.
"We are trying to spread the meals to different hospitals," said Nikayla. "We have been able to help local frontline responders here at Fellowship Village, we also have donated to the Morristown Medical Center and St. Barnabas in Livingston," she said. And in a separate partnership with their mother's non-profit SABA, South Asian Bar Association, they are supplying meals to St. Barnabas Hospital. "We're just so thankful for everybody's support and everybody standing by us and donating during this time."
The sisters plan to keep going until the epidemic is over -- as long as we continue to raise funds, said Adalia.
The Fellowship Village delivery marked their 20th delivery. "We're so grateful for everybody's support, and we're just so thankful for all of our frontline responders and everything they're doing during this crazy time," said Nikayla.
The Seventh Taste Catering Company run by Chef Andrew Rubin and Rachel Rea prepared the meals for Fellowship.
"This has much more meaning than you can imagine," said Laura Sharp, Director of Clinical Operations. "This was very generous and kind of you."
"Meals for Heroes" is currently receiving support through social media. People can sponsor a meal by donating $10 per meal. They accept donations through Venmo and Paypal. Donations can be sent to Venmo @Rippi-Karda or Paypal to RippiKarda@yahoo.com using the "Send to Friends and Family" option.
"As long as we keep getting funds, we want to continue this because obviously this epidemic isn't going to end anytime soon. So as long as we can just keep helping people, that's our goal here," said Nikayla.
The "Meals for Heroes" network includes:
- Navleen and Raj Boparai, students at Hillsborough High School are the founders of the network and work with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Somerset;
- Mehr Singh and Kabir Nagpal, also students at Hillsborough High School are working with Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, NY;
- Ava and Gianna Luongo fundraise in Hillsborough.
- In Basking Ridge, Nikayla Karda-Marok and Adalia Karda-Marok are working with Morristown Medical Center, long term care facilities, VA, doctors' offices, pharmacies, urgent care locations, rehabilitation facilities, and the Police Department;
- Naischa Puri is working with JFK Medical Center in Edison;
- Unnat Chhatwal is working with the Monroe Police Department and Testing Center;
- Jai and Marissa Narula is working with Montgomery.
- Nikayla Karda-Marok and Adalia Karda-Marok are working with Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston
All the branches of the network have collectively raised over $21,000 and have delivered more than 2,000 meals. None of these efforts would be possible without the initiative and hard work of Navleen and Raj Boparai who, were supported by their parents Leena Banipal and Rick Boparai.