The holidays can be a difficult time for South Jersey residents dealing with homelessness, hunger, displacement and other issues.
But there are many organizations in the area that have stepped in to help.One of them is the township high school’s Interact Club, whose members traveled to Camden the Friday before Thanksgiving to help package meals for the needy.
“Last year, we began to make sandwiches for Cathedral Kitchen,” club co-advisor Kim Slater said. “Part of our initiative is to give back as much as we could to the community. In working with a nondenominational church in Riverton, Calvary Presbyterian, they put us in touch with other people in the community to work with, and that led us to UrbanPromise.”
This year marked the first time the Interact Club has worked with both Cathedral Kitchen and UrbanPromise, two Camden nonprofits that, among other things, provide meals to those going through hard times in the community.
UrbanPromise goes beyond meals and has expanded nationwide, hoping to “inspire generations of positive change agents working towards a compassionate and just world,” according to its website.
Fifteen Interact Club members came through on Nov. 18, helping to prepare packages that had nonperishable items and basically full Thanksgiving meals for distribution to more than 100 Camden families.
“Last year, most of the bags were pretty much already prepared when we came in,” club co-President Nicole Howe said. “This year, we went on a different day and were able to do more with assembling packages and gathering food.
“We liked what we did last year, but we wanted to do more, and I think we did.”
It was the second time the club has teamed with UrbanPromise, and the effort has already been a success for both organizations. Students were so productive in the few hours they had on the Friday before the holiday, UrbanPromise was able to get some much-needed and welcome assistance at a hectic time of year.
The goal of the Interact Club is to continue to give back, and the group has more events scheduled for the rest of the school year.
“We are very fortunate that we have the students that we have who are hard-working,” noted another Interact co-Advisor, Laurie Hyland. “We were able to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time …
“I think sometimes we lose sight of how fortunate we are,” she added. “We have all the groceries we need through going to the grocery store, and not everyone has that luxury.
“It was definitely eye-opening for the students to see that.”