The North Bergen Community Food Pantry and the Bergen business, Rose Garden Bowl, have worked together to assure that more than 100 area children experience some of the magic of the holidays in the form of Christmas stockings this year.
This is the second year that the two organizations have collaborated on their Christmas Angel Stocking Program, soliciting donations of stockings filled with toys and personal items.
Donations are being made by bowling league members and patrons of Rose Garden Bowl, members of the North Bergen Presbyterian Church and the First Presbyterian Church of Byron congregations, and local families.
The number of stockings donated has more than doubled — from 45 in 2019 to 109 stockings in 2020. In all more than 60 generous donors have gathered items for the stockings that will be distributed to 47 families. Recipients of the stockings are largely families that are clients of the North Bergen Food Pantry.
“We’ve seen a 100-percent increase in patrons visiting the pantry since March,” said Dave Fish, pastor at the North Bergen Presbyterian Church that organizes the Pantry services. “There has always been, and will always be, need in our community but the impact that COVID is having on families in our region is devastating.
"It’s the pantry's mission to lessen that impact by feeding both body and spirit. Assuring that children experience some of the magic of Christmas is an important ingredient of that mission.”
“We believe in giving back to our community and was encouraged by the response of our Rose Garden Bowl family of patrons to our request for stocking sponsors this year” said Christina Sardou, co-owner at Rose Garden Bowl. “Initially I was concerned that the number of people who could participate might be affected by the pandemic, but the opposite was true. Peoples’ eagerness to assist has been both humbling and inspiring.”
The program started in 2019 when Sardou suggested the idea of partnering on the program.
“Dave and I had had a few conversations about the Food Pantry and we had stored some surplus frozen foods for the pantry at times when their space was limited,” Sardou said. “During these conversations, I asked if he had considered doing something for local children at Christmas, and described how the Church and the Rose Garden Bowl family and friends might collaborate to create a Christmas stocking drive. The rest is history.”
The North Bergen Community Food Pantry — North Bergen Presbyterian Church, 7068 N. Bergen Road, Bergen. Pantry hours: the third and fourth Wednesday of each month from 6 to 8 p.m. and the third and fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information visit the Pantry’s Facebook page.
Rose Garden Bowl and Viking Valhalla Restaurant — 21 Buffalo Road, Bergen. (585) 494-9900). Family-owned and operated since 1954. For more information about banquets, bowling and volleyball, visit rosegardenbowl.com or on Facebook.