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Stories From Main Street: People’s Pantry Helping Toms River Residents Impacted By Sandy

About 3,000 Residents Take Advantage Of The Food Pantry Each Month
The People's Pantry in Toms River, N.J. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

The People’s Pantry in Toms River, N.J. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Neighbors are helping neighbors in the superstorm Sandy-devastated town of Toms River, N.J.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, it’ll take years for some to recover from the storm so the community has banded together to help make ends meet.

Thousands of families in the bayfront town are still trying to recover from the massive storm that hit almost a year ago.

“It is far from over,” said Patricia Donaghue, who volunteered to run People’s Pantry.

LINK: More On People’s Pantry

People’s Pantry was launched by the Toms River Regional Schools district following Sandy.

Donaghue said when People’s Pantry opened, she never anticipated it would be a long-term project.

“I’ve been told by the experts 10 to 12 years,” she told Adams.”They’re saying 10 to 12 years because of improper insurance coverages or failure to even have insurance. A lot of people are spending out of pocket to repair their homes. And while they’re doing that, they’re paying mortgage and taxes on houses that they can’t live in and they are paying rent, so something has to give.”

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

The storm thrust middle class working families suddenly into poverty, Adams reported. Roughly 3,000 people per month seek help at the 20,000-square-foot storefront in a strip mall.

Manager OJ Meyer said they can always use more donations of food, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

“Any way that we can help them, even if it’s just freeing up some of their money by giving them food,” Meyer told Adams.

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Resident Sal Lemort said he’s grateful to have a place to stock up on groceries while he tries to rebuild.

“I was wiped out completely, I was out of my house for seven months. And I’m still not back to a 100 percent but it’s getting there,” he told Adams.

People’s Pantry also offers mental health services and assistance from Habitat for Humanity.

“This is community serving the community at its finest,” said Donaghue.

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