Linden provides Thanksgiving goods to needy families

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LINDEN, NJ — The city of Linden was looking to give back to the community by providing turkeys and Thanksgiving necessities to families in need on Monday, Nov. 23, after our press deadline. The event was set to take place at the John T. Gregorio Recreation Center. The city’s goal was to make this Thanksgiving a happy one for many.

“We are giving away upwards of 150 to 200 turkeys along with fixings on Nov. 23 at our JTG Center at 330 Helen Street at 2:30 p.m.,” said Rebecca Tattoli, the secretary for Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, on Monday, Nov. 16. “The mayor has been giving out food for our shut-ins and our families in need since this lockdown started. Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, the mayor felt we needed to make sure our families enjoy their holiday and have food to eat.”

According to Armstead, 130 residents have signed up so far. In the past, his office has helped 100 families for the annual Thanksgiving-meal giveaway, but this year, the mayor and his staff wanted to do more. Now, the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services is working with local and national businesses to feed hundreds of families for this holiday.

“Unfortunately, there are families in Linden, like any town, who just cannot afford to have everything they deserve and may need at this time,” Armstead said on Friday, Nov. 20, in a press release. “COVID has taken its toll on families all across this great country, including here in Linden. We’ve done Thanksgiving-meal giveaways in the past. But this year, we did something even more special.

“With the generosity of so many of our businesses and donors, we’re able to reach many more families with a full Thanksgiving meal. This administration, along with myself, are fully committed in helping those in need, especially during the holiday season with this unfortunate pandemic.”

The Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services and Mayor’s Youth Commission were able to secure commitments within 24 hours after launching their campaign from Walmart, ShopRite, SuperFresh, Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery and Capodagli Property Co., allowing them to feed as many as 200 families in Linden.

“The mayor is friends with the store owner, Howard Lee, and they have a great friendship,” Louis Lopez, store manager at SuperFresh, said on Saturday, Nov. 21. “Sometimes, the mayor stops by the store and says hello to everyone. He’s a very nice guy. For this cause, we’ve donated turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce and reusable bags. The turkeys will be given to the mayor on Monday, which will be given out to families at the event.”

“We want to make a difference,” Lopez said. “We want to be special to the residents. We want to be more friendly and show customers something different compared to larger companies. We also have a large number of international items that no one else has.”

Phillips 66 Bayway Refinery Manager of Public Affairs Nancy Sadlon said her company was also committed to giving back to the community in any way it can. “Our mission is ‘Providing energy, improving lives.’ We have a strong working relationship with the city of Linden and have been a regular supporter of numerous Linden needs and sponsored events that help the surrounding community,” she said on Saturday, Nov. 21.

“We provided a $500 donation to the Mayor’s Youth Council for the Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway. Hopefully, the contribution will help families to be able to enjoy a turkey dinner this holiday. We recognize that many local families are struggling financially to cover living costs and to have food for the holidays. Our company has provided a significant amount of support to state and local food banks to help during this crisis, not just Thanksgiving.”

Alex Lospinoso, the chief of staff to the mayor, said he had great expectations for the upcoming event.

“Our expectations are that 200 Linden residents, who are already registered, are coming to pick up these Thanksgiving meals on Monday,” Lospinoso said on Friday, Nov. 20.

“I’m so proud of every member of my team for always going the extra mile,” Armstead said in the press release. “At first, we thought that getting up to 200 families might not be possible. But our partners have proved to us, once again, that Linden has some of the best and kindest people and companies.”

Photos Courtesy of Alex Lospinoso