That giving feeling
Town to host special home-cooked meal for Thanksgiving; contributions post-Sandy ongoing
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Nov 18, 2012 | 5183 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

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Hurricane Sandy has brought out shows of generosity from individuals, businesses, and the local community. Overtures have ranged from an overwhelmingly successful food drive to restock the food pantry’s shelves to support from the municipality for neighboring communities like Union City and Hoboken with donations of clothing, food, and materials. The giving will continue into the holiday season.

From soup to nuts

The municipality will host a special Thanksgiving meal on Nov. 22 for any resident – whether they have been affected by the storm or are in need of a place to spend the holiday. The home-cooked meal takes place from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at 101 Centre Ave, and includes all the fixings such as turkey, stuffing, candied yams, mashed potatoes and more.

Director of Social Services Lisa Snedeker came up with the idea following the hurricane. “Nothing is the same for a lot of people,” said Snedeker. “Thanksgiving is different…too many people can’t have it.”

Snedeker spent every morning at the Office of Emergency Management during the storm and said she witnessed a lot of devastation. For those who had flooded homes, she noted, their houses still smell damp.
“You should have a nice home-cooked meal.” – Lisa Snedeker
“We don’t want anyone alone,” said Snedeker. “We don’t want anyone eating a TV dinner, not when we can do this for them.”

Snedeker and Florence Tarantino, who works for Meals on Wheels, will actually cook the entire meal. Snedeker has a commercial kitchen and between their two families they will prepare a feast that includes turkey breast, mashed potatoes, candied yams, string beans, corn, biscuits, soup, pasta, and desserts.

“You should have a nice home-cooked meal,” said Snedeker. “We are willing to give up ours to make sure everybody [has] something.”

Donations make up 90 percent of the items for the meal. While Snedeker said she isn’t certain how many people will come out, she can seat 100 people in the Senior Center.

“I want [people] to come and enjoy,” said Snedeker. “It will probably be the best part of Thanksgiving.”

Special delivery

Social Services also intends to deliver special holiday baskets filled with food to 75 local families the Monday before Thanksgiving. In addition, the Kings Kitchen group from Immaculate Conception that is organized by Elva Robinson will prepare and deliver Thanksgiving meals to 60 people who are confined to their homes. These individuals are those that typically get a meal delivered every day by social services.

Snedeker said that any resident may stop by at the Senior Center and receive a meal.

“They don’t need to be homeless or alone,” said Snedeker. “Donald Trump could come here and we would feed him.”

The Secaucus Food Pantry continues to accept contributions of holiday items such as canned corn, turkey gravy, canned yams, cranberry sauce, personal hygiene items, and other non-perishable foods.

Clothing, cleaning supplies, and more

Secaucus has been the recipient of many contributions but has also distributed supplies to others in need. Home Depot in Secaucus last week dropped off approximately $2,000 worth of clean-up supplies that included 160 bottles of bleach, 20-12 packs of paper towels, 40 mops, and 20 cases of contractor garbage bags as well as spray bottles. Chris Stoia, Store Manager from Home Depot, said the company wanted to ease the burden of homeowners with damage from Hurricane Sandy. Yasmin Badawy Ordonez from Home Depot worked in coordination with Lee Penna from the Secaucus Public Library to arrange the donation.

“People are cleaning their garages, crawl spaces, and sheds,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. He said the municipality would distribute the supplies to the hardest hit areas.

Trucks unloaded box after box of clothes last week at the United Way thrift shop located at 79 Metro Way. The contribution valued at $1 million was sent by New-York based Fashion Delivers, a non-profit organization that works with the adult apparel and home fashions industries collecting donations of new product to help individuals and families in need. The contribution included designer coats, dresses, fleece jackets, sweatshirts, sweatpants, blankets, bedding, baby clothes, sweaters, and jeans.

The clothes are being distributed in some cases by the mayor himself to hundreds of local families in need as well as those affected by Sandy in neighboring towns such as Hoboken, Union City, Moonachie, North Bergen, and Little Ferry. Each family gets two tops, two pants, one holiday outfit, one coat, one sweater, and one pair of shoes or sneakers per person in the household.

While the donations arrived for families in need on one side of the store, on the other side the main showroom of the thrift shop was filled with clothing, flatware, toys, and other items such as area rugs given by Goldman Sachs and dishware offered by Classic Party Rentals.

“We look at this as part of the relief effort,” said United Way’s Bejamin Dineen in regard to the thrift shop operations. “The more we sell, the more we have to feed people.”

The thrift shop was scheduled to have a grand opening on Oct. 31, which was diverted due to the storm.

“This is an ongoing problem,” said Dineen of the post Sandy relief effort. “I think we will be dealing with this for a long time.”

Dineen said the thrift shop seeks volunteers to sort and organize merchandise. For more information, call: (201) 434-2625. For those interested in supporting the work of Social Services, contact Lisa Snedeker at: (201) 330-2014.

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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