TOMS RIVER – Just as residents have been dealing with the pandemic for about two years now, so have the volunteers and recovery agencies.
Recently, there was the 100th consecutive Friday of the Pop the Trunk food distribution. Although it takes place at the Presbyterian Church of Toms River, the service is available to all residents of Ocean County.
It’s called Pop the Trunk because it’s a drive-through situation. Volunteers place the food in the trunk or truck bed so that there’s no person-to-person contact to minimize the transfer of COVID-19.
The volunteers couldn’t have done it without a partnership with Fulfill, which provides the majority of the food.
“Thank you just does not seem enough,” said former Councilman Terrance Turnbach, a volunteer with the Pop the Trunk organization. “Fulfill stepped up in our community’s time of need, easing the fears of members in our community who were struggling with an inability to afford food. The consistency and the heartfelt level of care offered by every member of Fulfill from the top down is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and I will always be grateful to this organization for what they have done for Toms River and Ocean County.”
Fulfill was formerly known as the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. They changed their name to more accurately reflect the programs they administer to the whole person – not just feeding the hungry.
Between the 300 feeding agencies in Monmouth and Ocean, Fulfill is currently serving 972,000 meals per month. The demand for food is still 22 percent higher than before the pandemic, they said.
“We are grateful for this group of volunteers in Toms River who work hard every week to help Fulfill reach our neighbors in need. The pandemic has been difficult for so many, and together we have been able to provide fresh produce, dairy, and meat, as well as shelf stable foods to families, children, seniors, veterans, and more. Thank you to all who gave their time, energy, and hearts each Friday to make this possible,” said Triada Stampas, Fulfill CEO and President.
“Every week I am so overwhelmed by the kindness and love shown towards our community by this ‘Friday Family’ that has formed,” said volunteer Jennifer Howe, who is also a Board of Education member. “It truly is a group effort, and everyone plays an intricate part in ensuring that our guests are not only filling their trunks with food but leave feeling they have the support and love to get through whatever struggle they are going through.”
How To Help
Fulfill is always open to people who want to give of their time and their heart. To volunteer or donate, visit fulfillnj.org. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
The group has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a website that judges nonprofits on how much of their donations go to actual programs and how transparent they are. Of every dollar donated, 95 cents goes directly to feeding the hungry.
If You Need Help
Pop the Trunk takes place every Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Toms River Presbyterian Church located at 1070 Hooper Avenue in Toms River. No registration or identification are required.