Roselle community moves ahead with plans for giving

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ROSELLE — As all of New Jersey braces for the possible lockdown that may accompany a second wave of COVID-19, the office of Mayor Reginald Atkins and Roselle councilmembers plan a “Give Thanks by Giving” initiative for the upcoming holiday. For this initiative, Atkins is asking those who can to donate $25 food gift cards or other items to distribute to families in need, so they can shop for their Thanksgiving holiday meals.

“The ‘Giving Thanks by Giving’ initiative is the first in Roselle,” Mayor Atkins said on Monday, Nov. 9. “It seems as though it’s going to be one of the biggest give-outs in Union County, because we’ve been able to partner with multiple organizations, such as the Union County Freeholder Andrea Staten, the Livingston Lions Club, the Hillside Food Bank and my wife’s nonprofit organization, called New Destiny CDC. We have other people who have called and gave us donations and, as a result, I believe that we are going to be able to give upwards of 200-plus turkeys out and 1,000 food boxes out in Roselle on the weekend of Nov. 21. So, we’re going to have two days of just giving things out.

“My wife and I do this every year and we’ve decided to make it even bigger this year by incorporating the municipal council, as well as the Mayor’s Office. So we’ve been able to make it bigger,” he continued, explaining how this idea was brought to life.

For this initiative, everyone will lend a helping hand, he said.

“Council members, as well as I, will donate also,” said Atkins. “We’re also giving the $25 gift cards, once the food and everything runs out. Businesses can absolutely donate also. They are encouraged to call our office number, 908-259-3015, and give toward the event. Anyone who’s donating can donate as much as they can. It can be $25 gift cards, which we’ll be giving out, and it can be turkeys. Those are the two things we’ll be asking for.”

“I am so excited,” Atkins revealed. “My wife, Cynthia Atkins, and I, due to the fact that it’s the ‘Mayor and First Lady’s initiative,’ we’re excited about it, because we’re able to give back. Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, from the east side to the west side, from First Ave. to St. Georges, and so far, since COVID-19 started, we’ve been able to touch over 7,000 people at our Roselle location. We’re excited about it.”

“Right now, this is the only initiative that we have going on,” he continued. “But keep in mind, it’s not just $25 gift cards, it’s also the fact that we’re giving away 200-plus turkeys.”

Fifth Ward Councilman John Fortuna also spoke about this initiative.

“The goal is to distribute 1,000 food boxes and up to 200 turkeys to needy families within Roselle,” Fortuna said on Monday, Nov. 9. “Mayor Atkins and his wife have reached out to the county and Community FoodBank of NJ in Hillside, and other nonprofits, in order to acquire those resources. This cause isn’t a new idea, but it’s new in terms of doing it in Roselle to this degree. We are all absolutely donating also. It’s something that you do, not because you’re in office, but because it’s the right thing to do. Anyone who wants to donate, no amount will be turned away. Gift cards are preferred.”

With the desire to give, Fortuna said he firmly believes giving to others and helping in any way is the root of this cause.

“I think this is great,” Fortuna said. “I think anything that’s charitable, I stand behind, especially considering this year, where it’s been an extremely odd year, and it’s hit so many people so hard. Something like this is needed in Roselle more than ever before.”

The town plans on distributing the gift cards no later than Friday, Nov. 20. All gift cards should be mailed to: ATTN: Mayor Reginald W. Atkins, 210 Chestnut St., Roselle, NJ 07203.

The Roselle Police Department is also planning for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday for Roselle residents by having a turkey distribution. Roselle Police Benevolent Association representative Anthony Bracey detailed the plans to make this happen for the community and help residents during these challenging times.

“Even though it’s COVID-19, we are going to buy turkeys and we plan on giving them away to local churches for them to give out to their members,” Bracey said on Monday, Nov. 9. “Last year, we did baskets of food for the community. We are paying for the turkeys. At this point, we’re not partnering with anyone, and we’re buying turkeys out of pocket.”

Even without partners as of yet for their turkey distribution, the RPD still plans to host the event.

“Other businesses may take notice of what we’re doing and give us a certain amount of turkeys, based off our initiative and what we’re doing for the Thanksgiving holiday, but that hasn’t happened yet. It’s just us right now,” Bracey continued. “We are, for sure, donating, but we just don’t have a set date as to when this is happening. Not yet.”

Photos Courtesy of Reginald Atkins