Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 "Have-A-Heart" Food Drive
Celebrated at Robert Mascenik School 26

Our Mayor John E. McCormac today announced that the 2012 "Have-A-Heart" food drive collected more than 20,000 pounds of food and over $31,000 in cash donations to support the efforts of local food pantries in their work to aid needy families throughout Woodbridge Township. More than 100 Township corporations, businesses, retail outlets, schools and students, charitable groups and residents contributed to the food drive.

 "The 'Have-a-Heart' food drive is one of the most important programs that we as a community participate in each January and February. I am proud to be a part of the effort to extend the generosity of the holiday season and to replenish and restock Township food banks," Mayor McCormac said. "Hunger knows no season and no boundary. It's crucial that we work every day - not just during the holiday season - to collect food as we work to help provide the necessities of life to our neighbors and families who might otherwise go hungry."

This food drive was established in 1995. Peter Barcellona, Chairman of "We Feed Woodbridge", reported that more than 200 pounds of non-perishable food was collected and sorted for donation by the Third Grade students from Robert Mascenik School #26 of Iselin The student food drive program was coordinated by School #26 teachers Kristie Manente and Lora Bucior. Additionally, other schools have participated in Have-A-Heart food drives.

A student explains one of the food drive graphs to the Mayor.

School #26 Principal Sharon Strack noted that teachers and students turn food drive logistics into classroom curriculum exercises with students creating posters, flyers, graphs, and other learning aids that apply lesson plans and problem-solving methods to the project.  Students also coordinated the food collection, sorting,  packaging and delivering food to the food pantries.

Significant contributors to the township-wide food drive included the Colonia Business Community
Members of the Colonia Business Community were present.
and the Colonia Corner newspaper, which collected $9,000 and more than 1,500 pounds off food at the recent "Taste of Colonia" event.  Woodbridge Center Mall donated $3,000; Woodbridge ShopRite donated 3,000 pounds of food; Northfield Bank donated $2,500 and collected 225 pounds of food; BCB Community Bank, the Club at Woodbridge, and Bob's Discount Furniture each donated $1,000; Bessemer trust collected 1,300 pounds of food and $852; YMCA of Woodbridge collected 1,500 pounds of food; St. John Vianney School collected 1,000 pounds of food; the Central Jersey Boy Scout Council collected 1,500 pounds of food; and Strawberry's Pub collected 700 pounds of food.

Members of the Colonia Business Community presented a check for $9,000 to Peter Barcellona for We Feed Woodbridge
The food items will be distributed to needy Woodbridge Township families and individuals through the following food pantries, who were also represented at the event.  They include:
- Heavens Helper's Pantry, Woodbridge
- First Presbyterian Church, Iselin
- Trinity Episcopal Church, Woodbridge
- MetroPark Assembly of God, Iselin
- First Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge
- St. James Roman Catholic Church, Woodbridge
- First Presbyterian Church of Avenel
- First Congregational Church - Women of Faith - Woodbridge
- St. Cecelia Roman Catholic Church, Iselin
- Elijah's Bread Food Pantry, Woodbridge

Students received certificates for their participation in the food drive.
After the presentation, they (and the Mayor) had a great time with a question and answer session.  Questions ranged from "How long has this food drive been done?" to "What is it like being Mayor?", to "Have you met any famous people?" and "What is your favorite sports team?"  The third graders really seemed to enjoy themselves, and the Mayor was completely willing to talk to them on their level about both serious and silly things.  I'm sure it's something they'll remember for a long time to come.

The whole experience seemed to be very educational for the third graders.  They had the opportunity to learn everything from how important it is to be charitable, to what it's like to be the Mayor.  They created charts and graphs about the food they collected and they worked together... a great lesson learned, and a great job by the third graders and Robert Mascenik School 26!

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