It’s crunch time at Ridgewood Social Services as they get ready to support their clients during the holiday season. But as Thanksgiving draws near, their pantry—which is usually well-stocked this time of year—has many empty shelves.
The Social Service Association covers Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Waldwick, Wyckoff, Midland Park, and Ho-Ho-Kus. As always, they’ve been at work since October anticipating the needs of the families they serve. And how are they doing?
“That remains to be seen,” says Denise Vollkommer. She points to economic conditions since 2009 that have both expanded the population they serve and narrowed the number of those able to donate. Sandy was a setback as well, as nearly two weeks of school closings disrupted one of the primary means the association has of collection.
“We’re hopeful that people are still interested in helping out their neighbors,” Vollkommer told Patch. “But in addition to the storm, this has been a prolonged recession, and I think some of the people who donate are hurting as well. We try to be sensitive to that and not always have our hands out, but we do need to have our hands out in order to help the people that need it most.”
And so, while they’re hopeful that donations will come through in the next few days, there are concerns that their food drive will not entirely cover the needs of those they serve. “We do have some contingency plans in the event that we don’t get as much food as we’ve had in the past,” she says, but adds that plan B may entail dipping into funds usually reserved for the rest of the year.
The SSA, in addition to the pantry they operate, also provides emergency financial assistance and children’s summer camp funding for clients, and they hope they can continue to reserve funds for those programs rather than covering the immediate needs of the holidays.
In addition to their efforts collecting food, the SSA is also hosting a fundraiser at the Upper Ridgewood Tennis Club this Friday. Tickets for the evening of food and musical entertainment can be purchased at www.SSA6.org, and proceeds will benefit the organizations yearlong efforts for their clients.
For those able to donate, Vollkommer says, the pantry is in dire need of all Thanksgiving dishes—including Turkey, canned and fresh vegetables, cranberry sauce, and rice dishes. Donations can be dropped off through next Monday and Tuesday at the SSA building (located adjacent to the Ridgewood train station) or at the Village Hall Community Center.