Conversations With People We Value #2
While fulfilling our duty to practice “social distancing” we should embrace the opportunity to reduce emotional distance. Check in on an old friend. Call a sibling more frequently. Put Adirondack chairs on you front lawn and talk to your neighbors as they walk by. Or in the case of car guys, translate your motoring isolation into a fund raising group opportunity – like the Drivin’ News Food Drive.
Carnucopia Food Drive Results
Over the years Janelle Larghi has witnessed a great deal of need as Director of the Tri-Boro Food Pantry in Park Ridge, NJ. “But, never anything like this,” says Director Larghi.
Since the state imposed its shelter-in-place lockdown, demand on the pantry’s resources has more than tripled. Where last May the pantry normally served 30 families a week, This May it serves 110 families a week.
Larghi’s connection to the food pantry runs deep. Her grandfather co-founded it in the early 1980s. Larghi says, “the Tri-Boro Food Pantry’s mission calls for providing food to anyone in need who comes here for help. Plain and simple”
Serving primarily Bergen County, clients of the Tri-Boro Food Pantry represent a large cross section of people including working class families, senior citizens, immigrant families and handicapped residents from local facilities.
Says Larghi, “I don’t see any immediate end to this situation of people needing assistance.”
“Luckily for us, we have the generosity of the community and a lot of businesses, parishes, individuals and groups like Drivin’ News, Rockland Rodders and the local Corvette Club. All are helping us meet the demand. We couldn’t do it without everybody’s help.” says Larghi.
While the Tri-Boro Food Pantry faces each day challenged to operate at a level far beyond what was once normal, Larghi made a point to emphasize saying, “Anyone who needs food or assistance should put their pride aside and come to us for help because that’s why we’re here.”
For many readers of Drivin News, the idea of the “Food Drive” offered a welcome means for helping people in this challenging time.
Though Memorial Day weekend, an autumn-like chill accompanied the Food Drive participants as they assembled in the deserted Kohl’s parking lot just south of the New York Thruway. An eclectic and wonderful collection, some vehicles represented the fruits of years of meticulous reconstruction while others reflected on-going preservation efforts that sought to stall the ravages of time. Others were messengers from history recalling distant memories of family adventure.
However, as if Andromeda Strain author Michael Crichton had crafted some bizarre perversion of what was once normal life, drivers casually sported face obscuring surgeons’ masks or bandit bandanas plus surgeon’s gloves.
With cars spaced apart every other parking spot, drivers meandered in orbit about their vehicles while maintaining a proper distance from the surrounding drivers.
A year earlier and a life time away, this scene was unthinkable. Much has changed since the ides of March 2020.
As drivers arrived the fleet expanded to include a mix of iconic contemporary and vintage collectible vehicles including a BMW Z8, Nissan GT-R, various Porsches, Mercedes-Benz SLs, Corvettes, 70’s Mopar muscle and a vintage cluster that included an air cooled Corvair, Volkswagen Westfalia and the Drivin’ News F100 pickup.
Departing at 8:30 the masked motorists circled the Kohl’s parking lot to pass the Drivin’ News 1953 Ford F100 pickup and drop off their donations.
Lead by Peter Desbet’s in his 1986 Guards Red 911 Porsche, the group, with masks cast off, burst out onto a desolate Route 17 enroute to Harriman State Park and the two lane roads that snake through its 44,000 wooded acres.
Though restricted by New York State Covid-19 related road closures, the “Food Drive’s” early departure allowed the group to navigate the trip to the Bear Mountain Circle and back effortlessly. It was only later with Harriman left in the group’s tail lights that the peace and tranquility of Seven Lakes Drive would, thanks to New York State mandate, acquire the charm of a Cold War Eastern Block border crossing.
As the participants spilled out of the Seven Lakes Drive exit on to Route 17, they could rumble home having given their cars a much needed workout and the Tri-Boro Food Pantry a much needed $1,000.