When the sun came up Thursday morning, volunteers with the Southern Baptist Convention began their day as they have every day for more than three weeks here in New Jersey, by making preparations to cook thousands of meals for those affected by Superstorm Sandy. As our disaster partners, the Southern Baptists cook food purchased by the Red Cross in large Red Cross Kitchens strategically placed throughout the state. The meals are then loaded in Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) and delivered to people in affected neighborhoods by Red Cross volunteers.
But this day stands out and the hope is to help make it special for New Jerseyans who have been living in an aftermath of devastation they’ve never experienced before. It is Thanksgiving morning and the memorable smell of roasted turkey fills the air of the parking lot outside the Red Cross Kitchen in Middletown. Red Cross disaster workers rush to load large insulated containers of hot meals into ERVs lined up 20 deep.
The Red Cross will serve 7,500 traditional Thanksgiving meals – including turkey, mashed potatoes and apple pie – throughout areas in New Jersey affected by the storm.
One of these areas is the neighborhood near Jersey City’s McGovern Park which flooded during the storm. Family members line up at the ERVs stationed at the park and welcome each other and the Red Cross disaster workers with spirited greetings of ‘Happy Thanksgiving!’ Several people mention how nice it is to take a break away from the cleanup and give thanks for all they still have – each other and people who care.
One young visitor to the ERVs is 5-year-old Janelle Guanlao of Jersey City, who brightens the day with her adorable smile and says ‘thank you’ while waiting for her mother and grandmother to pick up Thanksgiving meals for the family.
As people in New Jersey continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy, Red Cross volunteers will be working throughout the holiday weekend providing meals and delivering relief supplies as families continue efforts to clean their damaged homes.
The Red Cross response to Sandy is massive. As of 11/22/12, the Red Cross in New Jersey has:
• Served nearly 4 million meals and snacks.
• Made more than 26,800 health services and emotional support contacts.
• Distributed more than 1.4 million relief items.
• More than 1,000 Red Cross workers are currently assisting New Jersey relief efforts.