Andover, Byram and Sparta police’s weekend-long Stuff the Bus/Cram the Cruiser food drive netted 34,520 pounds of food, over 250 turkeys and more than $9,000 in donations, police said.
The departments were collecting food for the Sussex County Food Pantry.
Employees from the Mohawk House, Nielson Dodge, along with volunteers from Sussex County Social Service, and members of the Sparta Police Youth Division participated.
The camapaign had a presence in Sparta for the first time thanks to sponsor Mohawk House.
Under the umbrella of Social Services, Carol Novrit, administrator of Health and Human Services for Sussex County, has been overseeing the Sussex County Food Pantry at 83 Spring Street in Newton since being hired there ten years ago.The volunteer-operated pantry feeds 1200 individuals a month and is open to anyone Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The annual county-wide Stuff the Bus Campaign, now in its 9th year, originated under Novrit’s direction. “You never know if your next door neighbor is hungry.” Carol Novrit says.
Teaming up for the first time to support the event will be Steve Scro of Mohawk House. The local police forces of Sparta, Andover and Byram are also pitching in with a coordinated Cram the Cruiser drive to also collect food.
“Making a difference and creating a cornerstone in Sparta is what I set out to do before I built Mohawk House,” Scro said. “And I am living the dream as I help others fulfill their dreams. We are truly blessed for where we live and surrounded by such great people. We should embrace it — I am proud to be a Spartan.”
In addition to the collected food going to the pantry to be distributed, social services also has a weekend feeding program for children that began a year ago. “We didn’t realize how many kids are going to school on Monday hungry,” said Novrit. As a result, her department created ‘weekend bags’ that are distributed in Montague, Hopatcong, Franklin and Newton. And, Novrit added, senior citizens in low-income housing are also some of the people who benefit from the pantry.