Students help stock shelves

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — West Freehold School fifth-graders recently visited the Open Door food pantry in Freehold Borough to stock the shelves with food donations they collected through the Project Eat program. Throughout the year, Freehold Township schools gather donations to provide non-perishable food items to Open Door.

After bringing in bags full of food, students gathered to learn more about the operation of Freehold Area Open Door from the organization’s director, Jeanne Yaecker.

According to Yaecker, Open Door serves more than 300 families in need per month by providing food and emergency funding to those qualified.

“The Project Eat program, which was developed in the Freehold schools, has made such a difference in keeping a steady food supply,” Yaecker said. “The children are so enthusiastic and they learn at an early age how to give and be community minded.”

Anthony Ragusa, a fifth-grader at the West Freehold School, was one of the pupils there to deliver food and stock the shelves. His grandmother, Ramona Pappas, a volunteer at Open Door over the past eight years, was there to greet Anthony and his classmates.

“This is such a wonderful thing that the school is doing,” Pappas said. “At home, most of these children do not experience hunger. It gives them an awareness of other people in need and offers a basis for compassion.”

Yaecker concluded her discussion with the students by asking them to keep Open Door in mind over the summer while schools are closed. She said that donations tend to trail off in the summer and there is not nearly as much food on the shelves. After giving her thanks, Yaecker showed the students where the different food items were organized on the shelves so that they could get to work.

Krisa Bader, fifth-grade teacher, recognized the children for their accomplishment after they filled the shelves.

“Look around at all of the food you have brought in,” she said.

She encouraged them to keep the momentum going and to bring in donations over the summer.