ANWF from the beginning:
ANWF from the beginning:
In August of 2012 the dynamics of our family had dramatically changed. I was managing my career and solely raising my two children. Amid my struggles the Jersey Shore was hit by Hurricane Sandy. The effects of this devastating storm made my struggles at home become minute. Millions of people were without power, entire homes were washed away in the storm and many people were facing enormous emotional and physical devastation.
I started making my weekly work calls again. I was driven by the need to connect with those effected by the devastating storm. I was visiting Boston’s in Toms River when I noticed two military men sitting at the bar appearing lost and displaced. I had served in the USN in the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s and I remember that same feeling when I was overseas. I introduced myself and after a few minutes of conversation I discovered they were here helping us “restore the shore”. I asked them what they were doing for Thanksgiving. They said they were from Kentucky and they had no family here or plans for the holidays. This is when the moment hit, I said, “you do now!” I invited all the military and first responders to my home for Thanksgiving. After I got their information, the commitment I just agreed to set in and I had a lot of planning and preparation to bring this to fruition. I needed to find a chef with a good heart, motivation and a lot of connections to the restaurant world. That is when I reached out to my good friend Chef Mike Jurusz from Atlantic Bar and Grill.
We only had 3 weeks to contact volunteers, organize and prepare this meal. Volunteers and donations began to pour in. We had equipment and supply donations from all the factories I work with. Chef Mike was able to reach out to all his food suppliers. Mark Blackwell, a friend from High School and Stop & Shop manager, got word and reached out to get his stores involved. All my local restaurant customers and all of Chef Mike’s friends in the industry offered whatever we needed. We had enough turkey, mashed potatoes, and vegetables to feed 350 people. Next, we set up a tent in the back yard to seat 100 people. We were going to serve the meal in 3 seatings. We set up the garage as a buffet line with 35 volunteers ready to serve. Chef Mike rallied the volunteers to discuss the plan for serving when we received a phone call that changed it all.
The volunteers working in Seaside were not allowed to cross the bridge because of the enforcement of martial law. Shocked from the news, a volunteer raised his hand. He was a Toms River volunteer fire fighter. He offered the use of a firetruck to deliver the food to the island. Moments later a fire truck pulled down the cul-de-sac. It was an unbelievable sight! We quickly switched gears and had all our volunteers pack meals into individual containers, load them on the firetruck, and off they went. We delivered 350 hot meals that day. Immediately after the word started spreading and we were asked by other local communities to do it again for Christmas. This was the birth of “ifthereisaneedwewillfeed.weebly.com”.
Three years later a second inspiring moment impacted the organization. My son was making his 1st delivery with a friend. They knocked on a hotel room door and a veteran answered. The veteran was in shock; he was not expecting anyone. My son said, “we are from A Need We Feed, here is a hot meal, Merry Christmas!” The veteran told the boys he had his pistol locked and loaded and was just about to pull the trigger to end his own life. My son and his friend each took a meal and sat down with the veteran and ate Christmas dinner with him in the hotel.This story brought me to tears. I realized our meals are more than a container of food. Our deliveries on the holidays give those in need something to look forward to. This random act of kindness is a sign of hope that good things will come. That is when we decided Thanksgiving and Christmas was just not enough to look forward to. That year we implemented an Easter feeding and a summer barbeque. Our organization works strictly on donations so spreading out the four feedings gave us enough time to collect the next meal.
A Need We Feed became the name of our 501c3 non-profit charity in 2018, aneedwefeed.org. Today we prepare, package, and delivery over 11,000 hot meals a year to veterans, children, families who are in need, and many organizations in the community. We also collect and fundraise money for our Christmas toy drive donating over $12,000 of toys to families in need. We provide Easter baskets to the families with our Easter feeding. Lastly, we continue to expand our initiatives with a weekly lunch delivered to the Big Brothers Big Sisters in Seaside Heights, Toms River, and Lacey Township. We partner with organizations in Ocean and Monmouth Counties including Department of Children and Families, Family Success Center, Seeds of Service, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Harbor House, Ocean Mental Health, Ma22, Beat the Streets, Code Blue and any other individual families or organizations in need.
Thank you for reading our story!
President & Co-founder