By ERIN ROLL and LINDA MOSS
Montclair has mobilized to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey, with fundraising and relief efforts launched by local groups, houses of worship, and at least one taco truck.
The most widespread initiative, which kicks off this Monday, Sept. 11, is being coordinated by food-support organizations in collaboration with the Montclair public schools. Toni’s Kitchen, the Human Needs Food Pantry, the Salvation Army, MESH and First Seventh-day Adventist Church are spearheading a weeklong food and supplies drive for those affected by the deadly storm. At Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, parishioners have mounted their own drive and as of mid-week had already collected nearly 100 boxes of goods to ship to the Texas area, transported by DHL. And a local chain of gelato shops was pitching in, contributing part of its sales to the Harvey relief effort, as was the Taqueria Autentica truck.
The community-wide effort organized by area food organizations is requesting shelf-stable foods, diapers, cleaning supplies and toiletries for Texas food banks. Residents are asked to donate these items beginning on Monday, the National Day of Service. The drive will continue through the week and end on Sunday, Sept. 17.
The drop-off sites include: the Montclair Public Schools (for enrolled students only); Toni’s Kitchen at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church; the Human Needs Food Pantry; the Salvation Army; MESH at Hope Baptist Church; and First Seventh-day Adventist Church.
These donations will be then be transported to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, which is coordinating with the Houston Food Bank and other Texas food banks and delivering the items.
“The Montclair community has expressed tremendous concern for those displaced by Harvey. All of us are receiving inquiries as to how to help. Doing this as a community will allow us to have a tangible impact,” Anne Mernin, director of Toni’s Kitchen, said in a statement.
Houses of worship have efforts in place, as well.
The Archdiocese of Newark held a voluntary collection in its member parishes last weekend and will do so again Sept. 9-10, according to an announcement sent out by Cardinal Joseph Tobin. The archdiocese’s member parishes in Montclair include St. Cassian, St. Peter Claver and St. Teresa of Calcutta (which includes Immaculate Conception Church and Our Lady of Mount Carmel). Additionally, OLMC launched a drive to collect clothing and supplies to send to areas affected by the hurricane. One of the organizers of the effort, Marialena Marzullo, works at KPMG in Short Hills and arranged for her contact at DHL to transport donated clothes and supplies to those impacted by Harvey.
“They’re actually going to be flown down there, and it’s going to be helping a lot of the members, a lot of people from DHL … they are going to be a big group that gets supplies down there,” Marzullo said.
OLMC so far has about 75 boxes of goods, and further donations can be dropped off at the Pine Street church.
“We have nearly 100 cases of items to ship down there and it’s just been phenomenal,” Marzullo said.
Gibraltar Van Lines in Montclair donated 100 moving boxes to Our Lady of Mount Carmel for its effort, she added.
The Rev. David Shaw of Union Congregational Church emailed an appeal to congregation members last week. Within a few days, the appeal started getting results.
“Several families have volunteered space in their homes,” Shaw said via email. “Many members are giving to the organizations listed, and we are pondering whether to try to do an event for Church World Service where we would put together clean-up buckets that are handed out in disaster/flood zones. ”
Bnai Keshet sent an appeal to its members with a list of charities that were accepting donations, including the Jewish Federation of MetroWest NJ.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair sent a message to congregation members on its Facebook page. “All the experts say that the best thing we can do to help at this time is to send money to organizations that are on the ground locally. The Unitarian Universalist Association has vetted some of those grassroots organizations, and they will funnel your donations to them.”
Liz Morgan, acting director of the Montclair Township Animal Shelter, said last week that the shelter is limited in what it can do, since the building is undergoing reconstruction because of last year’s fire.
But she said she had been in touch with other area shelters. The Camden County Animal Shelter had informed her that they were taking in a number of small to medium-sized dogs, and Morgan said the Montclair shelter staff had offered to accept a limited number of small dogs.
Some of the shelter’s regular foster homes have started taking in displaced dogs and cats, she said. “We have some really wonderful foster homes.”
For residents interested in rescuing animals displaced by Harvey, Morgan recommends reaching out to other pet rescue organizations in northern New Jersey. One such group, she said, was Tenafly-based Pet ResQ Inc.
At the Montclair Farmers’ Market last Saturday, the Taqueria Autentica truck posted a sign saying that proceeds from the sale of a particular taco would go to Red Cross Houston Disaster Relief.
And Gelotti of Montclair announced, via Facebook, that its staff would be doing “Pints for Prosperity”: for every pint of ice cream sold in September, the store will donate $1 to hurricane-relief efforts, and matching each $1 donation at all three of Gelotti’s locations.
“We are also accepting donations of clothing and hygiene products which we are going to donate directly to the Red Cross,” Gelotti owner Michael Guerriero said in an email on Tuesday night.
Guerriero, his fiancée, Breanna Brito, and their friend George Judzan — the owner of Judzan Gear, a T-shirt printing company – are also organizing a project called United for the Lone Star. A number of participating businesses in the Montclair area will be offering specially printed T-shirts for sale, and the proceeds will go to help fund Harvey relief efforts.
“Gelotti remembers how tough Sandy was,” Guerriero said. “Unlucky were the many businesses and families without power for weeks and we felt the need to step it up this time, for this storm, and make sure we could make a difference.”