WAYNE, NJ – The effects of the COVID-19 viral outbreak has affected just about every aspect of life.  Because it has hit life so personally, some don’t realize how much it has hurt charitable organizations and those that depend upon donations for basic necessities.

About eighteen months ago, Kamala Anupindi helped to found a small volunteer group called Wayne Desi Volunteers who took on the responsibility to make sure underprivileged children in Paterson were fed on the weekends.  Her group supported Oasis and Eva’s Village in Paterson.  “Oasis feeds the kids during the weekdays, but on weekends there is no assurance that the kids will get anything to eat,” said Anupindi. “We used to provide quantities of mac-n-cheese packages, Chef-Boyardee cans, shelf-stable milk, cereal, and chips; enough to feed them through the weekend.”

“The reason we started the group was that we wanted our kids to get involved in volunteering,” said Anupindi. “So before the virus, once a month when we held our events, the kids actually made the sandwiches and made the snack packs and the adults were just there to help.” 

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The group would meet at one of their homes, but as they grew in number, they needed a larger space so Pastor Andy from Grace Presbyterian Church arranged for them to use his basement. “We felt that we had a permanent home to do our monthly event.  We met there just once and then COVID hit and we couldn’t meet anymore.”  A different strategy was needed, so Anupindi arranged for Oasis to come pick up the supplies to make the packs.

The group changed drastically from one post on Wayne Moms. “I posted on Wayne Moms asking if anyone wanted to join us, and it exploded,” she said. “Everyone wanted to join.” So, we went from a small group of Indian Moms to over one hundred people in one month.  Now Randi joined and started adding everybody and now we are at four hundred.” 

This was when the group name was changed to a more generic: Wayne Volunteers.

London is now focusing more on FLAG of Wayne which is a volunteer group that raises money to feed front-line health care workers at hospitals, while Anupindi continues her effort to feed poorer children.

“Right now our primary efforts are feeding the hungry at Oasis,” she said. “They used to feed three-hundred people and now they are feeding five-to-six-hundred a day. They no longer have the resources.  All the fund-raisers are postponed, so they have to depend on people like us to donate food.”

The Wayne Volunteers group has set-up a meal train where some Moms are cooking meals for five people while most our donating money to purchase discounted meals from local restaurants such as the Gryro Grill, Positano’s and Vinny’s Pizzarama.

The issue is that the initial donations have dried up and Anupindi's group only have enough funds for the next week.  “We desperately need people to donate to our cause, because we only have enough money for another week,” she said.

To donate by Venmo: @kamalanj or you can Paypal at OnlyKamala@yahoo.com

Anupindi said: “I wanted to highlight these restaurants:

  • Sunrise Bagels who donate 10-15 dozen bagels every day
  • Gyro Grill originally said they would donate leftovers, but then Schlomo decided that he would make fresh food every morning and donate that.
  • Vinny’s Pizzarama is also donating all their leftover pies plus they are adding fresh pies to their donations also.

Food delivery is Mondays and Thursdays. So Thursday we bought food for one-hundred and twenty-five people, and between Vinny’s and Sunrise Bagels, we delivered enough for another twenty-five and then we cooked for another twenty-five people. So, that’s one-hundred seventy-five people we delivered for,” she said.

Anyone is welcome to participate and can cook any kind of single-dish meals, like pasta, or chicken or Mexican rice. The drop-off is between 9:30am and 11:30am Mondays and Thursdays.  Then Oasis comes to pick up the food at noon. For the drop-off location contact Kamala Anupindi on Facebook or email: onlykamala@yahoo.com

“Most people are just donating $35.00,which will feed a family of five,” said Anupindi. “The problem is that we got the first wave of donations, then it dried up.  So, we need it every week.”

Those who want to help are asked to setup a recurring weekly payment via Venmo or Paypal to the group to continuously feed one family.

The Wayne Volunteer group also helps in other ways.

“I started an effort to have Wayne residents call seniors in Paterson,” said Anupindi. “Somebody from Paterson reached out to me and said: ‘Our seniors are lonely will somebody be able to call them once a week just to have a conversation.’ Given these tough times, they can’t go to church, they can’t go to Bingo or anything like that. So, I’m coordinating that also through our Wayne Volunteers.”

“Another effort going on are girl scouts who have cookies to sell and people who are buying them to donate to the Front Line group,” said Anupindi. “There are just so many things going on with this volunteer group.”

Volunteerism seems to be a part of Wayne Township’s DNA.  So, its no wonder that the Wayne Volunteer Group on Facebook has grown so fast.