WESTFIELD, NJ — (Updated on April 1) Restaurants and residents in Westfield are banding together to help ensure that healthcare workers are well-fed while they fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The residents are raising money through the GoFundMe “Feed the Frontline: Meals for NJ Healthcare Heroes” and are using the funds to purchase and deliver food to healthcare workers at area hospitals.
Westfield’s Stephen Voice along with his wife, Michelle, started the GoFundMe, which has been paying local restaurants to deliver food to healthcare workers at Overlook Medical Center in Summit and Union, Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, Westfield Urgent Care and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway.
“Your donation will be paid directly to local restaurants who will cook up and deliver a nourishing and tasty bite to eat for medical staff at our designated locations, hopefully helping to keep them sustained and to support them during this fight they, and we all, are navigating,” Steve Voice writes on the GoFundMe page.
Burim Regjaj, owner of Outta Hand Pizza on South Avenue, is among the restaurants to participate in the effort and has been delivering food to the medical workers.
“They keep telling me, ‘stay safe, stay safe,’ even though they are on the front lines,” said Regjaj, who then added: “They are heroes.”
On Monday, Michelle Voice said the effort continues to grow, but for it to keep going they need people to keep contributing.
“As this gets bigger and is growing, more places are contacting us: they’re saying we have these people at this department, can you help them?” she said. “So, the funds are getting stretched, but it’s also great to help as many people as we can.”
Michelle Voice said that 10 local restaurants are participating in the effort and that they are on track to delivering 706 meals by the end of the day Monday. The effort started about a week ago.
“We are very grateful for the donations,” said Michelle Voice, who added that she hopes to include more restaurants in the effort.
Her words come as the initiative is set to get a boost from a well-known country singer Monday afternoon.
Connor Myers, a native of Garwood, held a live-streamed concert Monday to raise funds for the local effort. Myers, who is a Marine Corps veteran, also encouraged donations to the Wounded Warriors Project, which is assisting veterans with COVID-19.
“Our goal is to, hopefully, raise about $25,000 so we can take some of the stresses off of the businesses in Westfield and help them stay alive during this time,” Myers said.
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