'Stuff the Bus' is broadcast live as volunteers stock Sussex County Food Pantry

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  • (Photos by Mandy Coriston).

  • County Director of Social Services Joan Bruseo and WSUS DJ Steve Allan show off turkeys collected at First Hope Bank in Andover on the first day of Stuff the Bus 2018, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. 

  • Sgt. Frank Schomp (L) and Lt. Terrence Mulligan of the Sparta Police Department were joined by volunteers from Pope John XXIII High School as they collected donations for Stuff the Bus 2018 outside the Sparta Stop and Shop on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018. 

  • Everyone was talking turkey at the Shoprite in Hampton on Sunday November 18th, 2018. Donors gave Stuff the Bus volunteers dozens of the birds for the Sussex County Food Pantry. 

  • Sussex County Human Services and Social Services personnel, local law enforcement, and other supporters and volunteers were all smiles after unloading the food collected during Stuff the Bus 2018. The county-wide food collection supports the Sussex County Food Pantry. 

  • (L-R) Byram Township Manager Joe Sabatini, Mayor Alex Rubenstein, Police Chief Pete Zabita, and Ptl. Robert Schellhammer encouraged Byram residents to cram the cruiser to support Stuff the Bus 2018, on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018 at the Byram ShopRite Plaza. 

Newton - Sussex County residents' charitable nature was evident during the 10th Annual Stuff the Bus Weekend. Radio stations WNNJ and WSUS broadcast the event live on Friday as Law enforcement, public officials, county employees and volunteers braved the raw weather to collect food and money to fill the Sussex County Food Pantry for the holiday season and beyond.

Sussex County Transit Buses, police cars from Andover, Byram, and Sparta, and cargo vehicles from Nielsen Automotive rapidly filled up with donated goods at the ShopRite stores in Byram, Hampton, and Franklin as well as at the Stop&Shop in Sparta.

First Hope Bank’s Dan Beatty gladly hosted a bus.

“We love partnering with other organizations," she said. "It’s so good to see people come out to help others and know that Sussex County residents take care of their own.”

At the Byram ShopRite on Sunday, Mayor Alex Rubenstein and Township Manager Joe Sabatini were there to “Cram the Cruiser" with police.

"Chief and his guys have been doing Cram the Cruiser for three years now, so it’s great that they’re willing to donate their time,” Sabatini said.

Mayor Rubenstein agreed.

“It’s also important for our residents to support this cause, since all the food stays here in the county,” he said.

Sparta Police solicited donations in the ShopRite lot. Lt. Terrence Mulligan noted Sparta residents' generosity.

“Many people were donating “Thanksgiving in a Box” meal kits," he said.

Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto said the kits help to fight hunger two-fold.

“Not only does the food pantry receive the food, but Stop&Shop donates a portion of the proceeds to a food charity,” he said.

Spidaletto was also grateful for Stop&Shop's donations and for use of the parking lot. The officers are volunteering on during their free time.

County Director of the Division of Social Services Joan Bruseo stood beside a partially filled van, noting that it was the second load of the day. “We’ve also received a lot of cash donations,"

At the ShopRite in Hampton, a bus was so full that some groceries had to be placed under the seats. One couople graciously donated three full carts of groceries. Items were offloaded at the County Services Building on Monday morning, and as the mound of food grew and grew, so did the smile of County Administrator of Health and Human Services and Stuff the Bus founder, Carol Novrit.

“We had such wonderful donations all weekend,” Novrit said. She noted that the items were headed straight to churches and food pantries to help with Thanksgiving meals.

County Freeholder Sylvia Petillo said her expectations of generosity were met abundantly.

“This is a gift of mercy for those less fortunate," she said.

A substantial monetary contribution from the Nielsen Automotive Group, as well as many other cash and gift card donations will help keep the pantry stocked.

Rita Oroho, wife of State Senator Steve Oroho, helped sort the proceeds.

“We’re extremely blessed to have so many generous people in Sussex County,” she said, “There’s never a need that’s not answered.”

The Sussex County Food Pantry is located behind the County Services Building at 83 Spring Street in Newton and is open to all county residents in need. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Annual Stuff the Bus Food Drive is sponsored by Nielsen Automotive and the Mohawk House, and supported by the Sussex County Police Chiefs Association, as well as radio stations WNNJ and WSUS.

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