The Sussex County Food Pantry put out its annual call to stock the shelves for the holidays, and residents responded in generous fashion, filling buses and police cruisers this past weekend with turkeys, hams, and non-perishable food items. The food was delivered to the pantry on Monday morning, Nov 25, where volunteers unloaded a mountain of canned items and filled the beds of pick-up trucks with turkeys to be distributed to area families in need.
Turkeys were of particular concern this year, and head of the county Social Services Division Joan Bruseo said that people answered the call beyond measure.
“We needed about 300 turkeys, and we’ve counted at least 500 so far,” she said. “People were amazing, this was an awesome turnout of people helping their neighbors.”
“This is really what Thanksgiving is all about,” said Carol Novrit, who is the Health and Human Services administrator, “It’s so wonderful to see everyone involved, from the police, the radio stations, the volunteers, and the residents coming together.”
Novrit gave credit to local police chiefs, including Byram Chief of Police Pete Zabita, who helped start the food drive over a decade ago.
“The police have been so amazing,” she said. "And Chief Zabita just has a heart of gold.”
Zabita is modest about the praise.
“This event is growing each year,” he said, “There are more volunteers than ever, and the outpouring of support is unbelievable. We can’t do this on our own.”
Nielsen Automotive, which helps sponsor the event, also donated $5,000, which Novrit said will help keep the shelves stocked with pantry items through the winter. Novrit and Bruseo also wished to thank the Newton VFW, Homer’s Restaurant, and the Fairgrounds for offering freezer space to store turkeys, and the other sponsors- The Mohawk House, WSUS/WNNJ/MAX 106.3, First Hope Bank, RoNetco Supermarkets, and the Sussex County Association of Chiefs of Police- for their support.
“It just shows that in Sussex County, the community always comes together,” Novrit said.
The Sussex County Food Pantry is open to all county residents in need of food, during the regular business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is located inside the County Services Building at 83 Spring Street in Newton.