The Brookdale ShopRite was bustling on Wednesday afternoon when Mayor Raymond McCarthy stopped by to bag groceries as part of the store’s “Partners in Caring” initiative to help fight hunger.
Wearing a red apron printed with the words, Fight Hunger, Mayor Raymond McCarthy said he felt privileged to help the effort.
"It's a matter of giving back to the community," he said.
Highlighting National Hunger Month in September, “Partners in Caring” is a 5-6 week donation program that raises awareness and funds for food banks within the community. Though ShopRite is collecting food and monetary donations from customers all month long, on Wednesday afternoon owner Neil Greenstein was donating ten percent of the day’s profits to the cause, while McCarthy was matching every customer donation with his own money.
“I want to show my support for everything Neil’s doing,” explained McCarthy as he cheerfully packed grocery bags and chatted with customers. “The people of Bloomfield are donating their own money. If Neil can donate ten percent of his revenue for the day, I have no problem reaching into my pocket and helping out.”
Since its inception in 1999, ShopRite "Partners In Caring" has donated $29 million to local food banks that support more than 1,700 charities in providing food assistance throughout the northeast United States. Last year alone the program raised an unprecedented $3 million. Of that amount, $16,000 was raised by the Brookdale ShopRite.
“Partners in Caring is a great fundraiser,” said Christine Magyarits, spokesperson for the program. “A dollar, that’s something people can do. A little bit goes a long way.”
She added, “We’ve been running the program for about eight years now. We put shopping carts at all the grammar schools in town. Last year we donated over 300 bags of groceries to the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair.”
Even outside the store, ShopRite employees were collecting money for the cause. Ashley Darpino and Nicole Bentivegna, both personal shopper from ShopRite’s home shopping program, were gathering donations of groceries from customers who were leaving the store.
“We tell them we’re collecting food on their way in, and hopefully they’ll buy something to donate on their way out,” grinned Bentivegna.
Greenstein will be honored as the Bloomfield Man of the Year at the annual Mayor’s Charity Gala on October 3.