SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The shelves of the South Plainfield Food Pantry are a little less bare this week thanks to a donation from the Buddha's Light International Association - New Jersey Chapter (BLIA-NJ). On April 4, representatives with the South Plainfield-based temple arrived with four carloads full of non-perishable food items, paper goods, and other everyday necessities, to help community families in need.

Back in February, BLIA reached out the South Plainfield’s Department of Social Services and, speaking with Director Marge Ackerman, obtained a list of much needed at the food pantry. Over the weeks that followed, BLIA collected money from members and a group of volunteers went shopping, marking items of the list while also keeping an eye out for the best sales and promotions.

During Tuesday’s donation, over 200 items were delivered including but not limited to cereal, soup, crackers, cookies, granola bars, canned vegetables, juice, soup, cleaning products, laundry detergent, napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels.

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“We collected these items based on a needed list provided by social services and tried to provide a variety of goods to benefit the food pantry,” said Yiwen Chiang, vice president of BLIA-NJ.

According to Ackerman, the donation will greatly help the families who turn to the food pantry each week. “We have about 20 families coming in each week and we truly appreciate BLIA’s efforts in helping us obtain these much needed items,” said Ackerman, adding that everyday necessities such as paper goods, toiletries, detergent and cleaning products are especially needed since those items cannot be purchased with food stamps.

“If you cant eat it, you cant buy it with food stamps and that stuff is expensive,” Ackerman said.

This is the second time in as many years that BLIA has held a donation and food drive to benefit the South Plainfield Food Pantry and, according to Chiang, the temple hopes to make another food donation later this year.

“Charity is one of the four main goals of our association,” said Chiang, noting that BLIA's other goals include education, culture and worship. “We believe in community helping community and want to reach out. By doing this we feel we are helping needy families of the community.”

The South Plainfield Food Pantry accepts frozen and non-perishable food items as well as paper goods, diapers, wipes, detergent, cleaning products and toiletries. Additionally, men’s socks, gloves and sweatshirts are needed and donations of gift cards to local supermarkets so that residents may purchase milk, bread and other perishable items are always welcome. Residents, businesses, community groups and organizations interested in helping or donating can contact Marge Ackerman at (908) 226-7625/7628 or mackerman@southplainfieldnj.com

The New Jersey Buddhist Culture Center, located at 1007 New Brunswick Avenue in South Plainfield, is a Buddhist temple founded in October 1995 through the delegation of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the 48th patriarch of the Linchi (Rinzai) Ch'an School. For additional information, call (908) 822-8620; visit http://www.ibps.org/newjersey/english/aboutus.asp; or email newjersey@ibps.org.

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