Posted by: gmontealegre | November 24, 2011

Turkey dinner brings smiles on Thanksgiving

Linden, N.J. November 22, 2011 – One by one they came to claim their turkey at St. Paul’s church in Linden. It was food day Monday and Tuesday at the LINCS food pantry and they were handing out turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s the 26th year the Linden Interfaith Network for Community Services, Inc. (LINCS) has been distributing food to Linden’s needy.

The group started back in 1985 with a volunteer staff of parishioners from various denominations according to Joseph La Placa, Director of LINCS.  La Placa said,  “This is an interfaith group, we have people from all the churches in Linden, including others who are doctors, nurses, teachers and bankers who volunteer.”

La Placa said the group got together to fill a need that existed in the community. “We knew there was a need, so we established the pantry. “

The pantry which is managed by Jay Dertinger and run from St. Paul’s Church on East Elm Street, first started servicing about 80 families but the number of families has more than doubled.

“We now have over 186 families, but you know the number is over 400 people when you realize that most families have more than two people in them,” said La Placa.

LINCS purchases the food in bulk from the Hillside Food Bank and thru partnerships with the Linden Firemen Mutual Benevolent Association and Shop Rite’s Partnering in Care program in Clark.  “They give us dollars or small grants that allow us to purchase the food for today’s giving,” said La Placa.

The families also received two bags of groceries including candy and desserts donated by the Walgreens in Linden, donations from Unity Bank which allowed the group to set up boxes in their lobby, local churches including St. Elizabeth Church and the children from Linden’s public schools, who every year on the first Friday in June hold a walk-a-thon for hunger and donate the proceeds to LINCS.

A woman who did not want to be identified said she was grateful to receive the food, “I did not have money to buy a turkey this year and without this food pantry, I’m not sure what I would have done.”

The LINCS volunteers among them Rose, Patti, Pat, Marcy, Terry, “Joe”, Jay, Mike, Joseph, Carol, Ann, Marge, Claire, Laura, and Bobby, the regular volunteers who every month bag the food for distribution, were joined by Linden firemen from Ladders 34 and 234 who came to help.

Lieutenant Tim Kushner representing his fellow firemen said, “We do this every year because the firemen want to help the Linden community. We donate the funds to purchase the turkeys and then we come and help distribute them. It feels good to give back to the community and to Linden.”

Mike Jackson, a firemen said this becomes a personal commitment on the part of Linden Firemen, “We do this twice a year for Thanksgiving and Toys for Tots.”

Mark Sanzera, Manager at Shop Rite, who delivered the turkeys from his store said, “It makes me feel good to be here. Brakes my heart and I would do whatever I can to help the people because you never know, who’s next.”

According to the latest Census Figures there are over 40,000 residents in Linden and about 7.6 per cent live under the U.S. poverty levels.  The poverly level is established by the US Department of Health at $22,350 for a family of four.  In Linden 75 per cent of the families who live under the poverty level are not employed; and only 3 per cent have jobs all year round.

The NJ Foodbank.org said they have seen an increase of 40 per cent in the families seeking food at food banks and distribution centers in the past two years.

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