April 10, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Bergenfield Food Gemach Serves the Community

The Bergenfield Food Gemach had a simple start: A few years ago, families with extra Pesach food post-chag began sharing or trading with others in the community.

As the world this year is entirely different from any­thing that we have ever seen, and with organizations such as Shearit HaPlate suspending their services due to COVID-19, some community members decided to enlarge the scope of this venture, and within a short time the Bergenfield Food Gemach was established. Through various Facebook groups the word spread that the gemach, located at 65 Thames Blvd. in Bergenfield, would be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day. Anyone interested in availing themselves of the gemach shelves is welcome to help themselves. The gemach is in a garage and there is a sign indicating that only one person is allowed to enter at a time; drivers are asked to wait until they see the car preceding them drive away before they park and enter.

As the word spread throughout the community, donations began arriving night and day. You name it, they have it. Toiletries and grocery items are lining the shelves and filling the boxes. Many feel the need to do chesed for others, cognizant that their neighbors are suffering through hard times. Large families are desperately trying to make do, in some cases, with neither parent working. Donors who had generously been supporting Shearit HaPlate sprang into action. Ayelet Rosen and her “crew” from Englewood have sent multiple carloads with provisions to restock the gemach. Along with many others, Rosen has adopted the gemach as “her” project.

Maya Galandauer, a Frisch student, “knew that someone had started this gemach and they were in need of more items to be donated. A few friends and I decided to put together a flyer to share on social media to encourage people to donate and we also made sure to drop items off.”

An attractive flyer, with the option to donate money to a Venmo account to enable more items to be purchased, was sent through social media by Galandauer and her friends, and immediately more donations were made.

So many have donated that there is almost no time to put items on the shelves before more boxes arrive. The newest phenomenon at the gemach is the addition of a refrigerator/freezer, which is being filled with sumptuous delicacies from Grand & Essex. At the same time each night, Cedar Market will be providing sushi from its fantastic sushi selection.

Much gratitude should be extended to Tomchei Shabbos, which was kind enough to send all of their leftover produce to the gemach.

Debra Okun immediately jumped on the bandwagon and through her new business venture @beyondbasicgifting, is creating and selling specialized tote bags with the words “Stay Home, Save Lives” emblazoned on them. All proceeds will be used to purchase food for the gemach. Each tote bag is being sold for $10 and Okun encourages purchasers to increase their donation if desired. For further information, Okun can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @beyondbasicgifting.

The gemach is located at 65 Thames Avenue, Bergenfield, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. The garage door is open. Please wear a mask and wait your turn if there is someone already in the garage. Donations are greatly appreciated.

By Nina Glick

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