“I’ve been coming here for five years, I don’t know what I would do if places like this weren’t around.”
Rodney Harris, a Passaic resident, is one of many, many people who rely on organizations like the Salvation Army of Passaic to feed themselves and their families. The decline of the economy has left thousands of New Jerseyans struggling to make ends meet. Relying on food pantries and nonprofit organizations that provide meals, clothing, and other essentials has now become a necessity for many, where once it may have been not even considered an option.
Many of those who come to the Salvation Army of Passaic are often eating for the first and last time that day. Meals are currently distributed three times a week, but the organization is planning to increase this to five times a week in the coming weeks. The amount of food available and donations are limited, even as demand is growing. Food must be distributed equally and carefully to make sure there is enough for the remainder of the week.
The Salvation Army of Passaic receives most of its food and clothing supplies from local businesses, as well as the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. It also holds flea markets every few months to help provide clothing to those who can’t afford to shop elsewhere. The clothing sold at the flea markets are often sold for fifty cents to a dollar. This makes it very affordable to those who need clothing for their families and are worried about the price tag. The proceeds from all the sales go toward the purchase of supplies and food to continue helping the people it serves each day. And while donations provide the supplies needed to service all of the clients who rely on Salvation Army of Passaic, it’s the fewer than a dozen volunteers who help provide meals, clothing, temporary housing, alcohol and drug addiction counseling, as well as helping lift the spirits of those they serve through prayer.
“We aren’t here to criticize anyone, just help,” said Chris, a volunteer. “If it wasn’t for the volunteers, it wouldn’t be stable. By them coming here every day it means a lot, not only for themselves but for the people they help. They have character.”
Salvation Army of Passaic volunteers help lift the spirits of those who are down on their luck by encouraging them to do better every day. They help show clients that there is a positive light in life, no matter what circumstances they be going through at the time.
“This really is a worthwhile job,” said one volunteer. “There’s a need every day, and we fill that need”
By Krystie Molodowec