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NUTLEY, NJ — The recent massive food drive conducted by Nutley Boy Scout Troop 147 and Cub Scout Packs 141 and 142 saw a record collection for the Nutley Food Pantry, which is housed at the Nutley Family Service Bureau office on Chestnut Street. According to a press release, 44,147 food items were collected — up more than 10,000 from the previous high of 34,065 collected two years ago. That amounts to a 30-percent increase. In 2013, the total was just 10,653. The program held its first collection in 2007, gathering 3,405 items.
“This was an exhausting day, but a great way to teach the Scouts, especially the young Cub Scouts, the meaning of helping others,” said former Nutley Commissioner Walt Smith, Pack 141 and project chairperson. “I thought we had reached our maximum potential with 2019’s incredible total of 34,065, but this year was amazing. The need this time of the year is especially great.
“We were able to reach this remarkable total because our Scouts in Nutley worked extra hard to try to deliver a bag to every house. A major effort was made to coordinate coverage of all streets in town,” he continued. “The Scouts would like to thank the Nutley community for generous donations to help those in need in our town. The post-pandemic response from the community was fantastic.”
The 2021 campaign was launched on Bag Distribution Day, the weekend of April 24, when Scouts distribute bags to residences in Nutley. The event’s organizing committee counted the number of houses on every street, and then assigned a Scout to each of the 8,600 homes to drop off a bag. The Scouts returned to the residences the following week for Bag Collection Day to retrieve the bags, which residents had filled with donated nonperishable food items. Trader Joe’s donated all of the bags.
The donations were then delivered to the collection site at the Nutley Masonic Lodge on Chestnut Street. Many of the bags of food are being stored at the township annex on Bloomfield Avenue; dozens of volunteers are working every day to transport the huge inventory to the food pantry. Some items will temporarily be stored at other locations. Boy Scouts from Troop 147 coordinated the reception of food items, along with Scout leader Monica Suarez, food pantry manager Peggy Conca, and more than 100 other NFSB volunteers and board members.
Scouts were also stationed outside Nutley Park ShopRite on May 1 to accept donations from residents. More than 1,000 items were donated there.
“I want to congratulate the Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Packs for their leadership in organizing their respective groups to make the project a tremendous success and to the many Nutley Family Service Bureau volunteers for their valuable help at the pantry,” Smith said.
The organizing committee, chaired by Smith and Suarez, included Conca; PAck 142 leaders Marisa Treglio, Cheryl Jiosi and Jose Raboy; Troop 147’s Eric Buset; Pack 141’s Joann Kielblock; and NFSB Executive Director Katherine Carmichael. Dan Lukowiak and several members of Nutley Masonic Lodge No. 25 helped organize the collection effort on May 1. More than 90 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts participated in the project.
“Nutley Family Service Bureau gathered many additional volunteers to help at the collection site,” Carmichael said. “The day would not have been such a big success without the volunteers’ enthusiastic help. All those items will support the food pantry and the more than 350 households (it serves) for much of the year. We are thrilled to partner with the Nutley Scouts to fill the pantry.
“We are tremendously grateful for the continued support that the Nutley Scouts and community members provide to programs like the Nutley Family Service Bureau’s food pantry,” she continued. “The food pantry relies on donations from this project to stock our shelves. Year after year the Scouts and those who donate help to keep the pantry going to support our neighbors in need.”
Participation in the food pantry program is confidential; qualification is decided on a case-by-case basis. Nutley residents in need of assistance should call 973-667-1884 or visit www.nutleyfamily.org. The food pantry at the Nutley Family Service Bureau is one of the largest in Essex County.
Boy Scout Troop 147’s Jeffrey Quinn led his troop with 1,143 collected food items, followed closely by Ethen Wanko at 1,142 items. Cub Scouts Pack 142 was led by Joseph Duarte with 1,009 items and Jolie Perez with 836 items. Pack 141 was led by Grayson Alvarez with 1,118 items, followed by Luke Donahue with 1,095. The Tevletidis brothers collected 1,852 items, the Richards brothers collected 1,361 items and the Crumrine brothers collected 1,163 items.
“The efforts of individual Scouts have reached a whole new level,” Smith said. “We are proud of every single Scout for their effort in helping our residents in need.”