Faiths Join Hands To Help Local Food Pantry

By Elsie Walker

Just before Thanksgiving, some area youths and adults were standing by a table outside Sam’s Club in Budd Lake.

They were holding a bake sale to benefit the Mount Olive Food Pantry; they also handed out fliers with a list of goods the pantry could use in case people wanted to shop and then make a donation of food.

The effort, however, was not just about helping others; it was about coming together as communities of faith.

The bake sale was put on by the Mt. Olive Interfaith Alliance.  Baked goods for the sale were contributed by alliance member places of worship -Abiding Peace Lutheran Church, the Islamic Society of North Jersey, and United Presbyterian Church of Flanders- and a local family.  Manning the table during two shifts were nine adults and eight children from the alliance. They collected three shelves worth of donated food and raised $374 for the pantry. Afterwards, some of the children shared their experience.

Vanessa Ponce, 13, of the Mt. Olive area, said the sale was fun and “we were helping out other families and kids who didn’t have food for Thanksgiving.”

Lamees Sattar, also 13, of Mt. Olive said she liked “being surprised at how generous and kind people can be. It is wonderful knowing how much people can care.”

Ponce attends Abiding Peace Lutheran Church with her brothers Alex, 8, and Marco, 11. The brothers took care of telling people the prices of baked goods and wishing them a “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Alex Ponce noted that he liked when people brought food donations to them, while his brother liked meeting the people from the other churches who came to help.

Maddox Rice, 8 and his sister Alaina 10, of Montgomery Township are the children of Vicar Serena Rice of the Abiding Peace Lutheran Church.  Maddox Rice said it is important for kids of other faiths to do projects together to become better friends.

His sister, Alaina, 10, shared his feelings about the importance of an interfaith project. She said that from it, “we can learn about them and how they do things, because they do it differently, but we can all help people”.

Sattar, of the Islamic Society of North Jersey, said, “In my opinion it is important for kids of other faiths to do projects together because most people just go by with what they see on TV, not knowing the truth that we are all people no matter what you believe in. Projects are a great way to get other kids my age, younger or older, to collaborate and work together, not being separated based on opinions.

“Some people get a little thrown off during the holiday season when I say I don’t celebrate Christmas, and even though they don’t mean to seem rude, they have that look of astonishment that is hard to avoid,” said Sattar. “When kids of different faiths work together, they can see we are all the same, even though we celebrate other holidays.”

Serena Rice shared that the food pantry has invited the children from the congregations in the Interfaith Alliance to come for an educational visit to learn more about local hunger and to see the ministry they helped to support.

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