Superstorm Sandy recovery in Toms River received some out of state help this week when an Ohio-based charity came to town with a trailer full of donations.
The People's Pantry, managed by the Toms River Regional Schools Special Education PTA, was established following Sandy to help families in need. On Thursday, a truckload of help came from Hope Always Lives On, or HALO Foundation, based in Akron, Ohio.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher, who was on-hand for the delivery. "It's one more example of the great spirit of volunteerism in this country. It renews your faith in human nature."
The tractor trailer that brought the goods to Toms River is known as the Road Scholar 93 Cents for Flight 93 trailer. It was designed by the HALO Foundation in honor of those aboard the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, according to the organization.
"This donation means more than most have," said People's Pantry Director Patricia Donaghue. She lost a friend on that flight, so the connection to the donation was personal.
Donations were collected by students and seniors in Ohio, according to Tiffany Desatnik of the HALO Foundation. Military personnel, JCP&L employees and pantry volunteers helped to unload the truck.
"Volunteerism is something we encourage with our employees," said Ron Morano, a JCP&L spokesman who was at the event with company staff who helped unload the trailer.
Another donation was made by the HALO Foundation on Tuesday, during which 18 gallon plastic totes were delivered. After the delivery Thursday, more than 350 totes will have been donated to help Toms River residents recover.
The People's Pantry has 4,700 registered families and about 500 of come in to the 1001 Fischer Blvd. location each week. These are mostly middle class families that don't qualify for government assistance, according to Administrative Assistant Eileen Davis Kovar.
"We do this all for the love of our community," she said.