The Brick, N.J., police chief came by to express his thanks and was greeted by Rosemary Moeller of St. Lawrence, who along with her husband, Lester, answered the plea sent out by the National Pork Board for help feeding those in need after Hurricane Sandy. Next, Lester Moeller, cooks meat on a large grill. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED
ST LAWRENCE — Wednesday night the call came. The National Pork Board needed another team of volunteers to go to Brick, New Jersey, to cook and serve for the devastated and the dedicated.
South Dakota Pork Producers passed the email on to Lester and Rosemary Moeller of St. Lawrence, who responded with a resounding “Yes.”
The Moellers left the farm and hunters in capable hands and headed to Sioux Falls to fly to Philadelphia. There they were met by Sam Moffitt, IN Pork Producer, with a van and MapQuest directions to 60 Drum Point Road, temporary home of the Pork Checkoff Event Trailer. They picked up Kristen Alsup, OK Pork Board, and James Luckman, Niagara County NY Pork Producer, and headed east across the Walt Whitman Bridge to New Jersey.
Driving through towns, wet fields of harvested corn and forests of broken trees, they watched out for four-ways without working lights and navigated rotaries. As they got closer to Brick, there was more and more snow along the two lane highway.
After an hour, five friends got out of the van at the parking lot of the Police Athletic League, now the rescue center, ready to start cooking and serving. They relieved a team from Iowa that had left that day, but were greeted by Glen Roest, IA Pork Producer, who had driven the Pork Checkoff’s Event Trailer in from DesMoines earlier in the week, and Regional Manager Todd Rodibaugh, IN, who drove the truck with 5000 lbs. of donated meat and buns for sandwiches, on Tuesday. Other volunteers already working were Megan Cline, GA Pork Producers, and Virginia Houston, TN, both with the National Pork Producers Council.
Smithfield Hams of Virginia gave NPPC 2,000 pounds of boneless pork loins, Johnsonville Brats donated 2,000 pounds of sausage patties, and Hatfield Quality Meats of PA donated 1,000 pounds of boneless loins.
The Pork Checkoff Event Trailer is equipped with six huge grills, bottled gas and a generator for just such occasions. There were at least six other groups grilling at the parking lot in Brick, and vegetable kitchens going as well.
Inside the center there were loaded tables of donated cooked food being served by neighbors like Kristen, whose house had no power and basement had two feet of water. She decided to go help others until her home got electricity and a working sump pump. Dreams of hot showers kept her going into the evening, after ten days with little comfort but lots of smiles.
FEMA workers were set up to register people whose homes were damaged and get checks to them, but also to make meals by the hundreds to fill vans that took them to schools and churches that were now housing families with no where to go.
The Pork Producers sent out three hundred meals to be taken to check points guarded by police and National Guard who handed them out to the power workers who were going non-stop to return power to the Jersey Shore.
There was a general push to feed everyone working out there at 1 p.m. and 10 p.m., and they wanted meat. A van of Boy Scouts of America took five hundred meals of pork to Coney Island, N.Y., to help there. Other orders were for shelters and churches in Tom’s River, N.J., and around Ocean County as well as inside the Police shelter.
Brick was selected because groups needed a central location with roads in good condition that could handle volunteers safely.
A few local moms organized as soon as Hurricane Sandy hit with the help of their teenagers and hit the social networks as soon as cell phone service was up. That happened because the various companies agreed to pool their working towers to get communications open. Word spread as quickly as kids can text, and bags started arriving as soon as the kitchen at the police center was heating up. After ten days, trucks were still bringing palettes of canned goods and vans were delivering thousands of meals all over Ocean County.
People wandered inside the shelter from their roofless homes, bundled up in the 60 degree weather with everything they had left, and were warmly greeted by caring neighbors. There were offers of food, then clothes, toiletries, connections for help, and whatever people required. The spontaneous organization of the community made it possible to absorb all the energy of generous people from all over the country and let it flow to people in need. The police chief stopped by to personally thank all the Pork Producers for the food and help that was offered.
Local people stopped by to chat, amazed that so many came so far to help them. Lester and Rosemary, Kristen, Sam and James were thanked by everyone from Brick Mayor Stephen Acropolis to the kids running around who wanted to do errands, carry coolers of meat and play trivia games about South Dakota and Indiana with the guys.
Lester got grill-face from so many hours of turning loins and burning gas. He loved every bit of it. In the Event Trailer kitchen, Rosemary lost count of how many sandwiches they made after the first five hundred on Saturday. But Glen had made great country western music playlists for working steady, and with singing along and moving to the beat, another half thousand or so sausage patty sandwiches went out on Sunday.
Monday, Lester and Rosemary flew back to Sioux Falls with really smokey-greasey laundry, many new email addresses and Facebook Friends, and memories of great times on an adventure to the devastated coast. The 5,000-pounds of pork had all been cooked and served to thousands of hard working people and displaced families who received needed comfort and support. Other donations were coming in as they cleaned up the grills and headed back to Levitttown, Pa., where they had motel rooms with heat and hot water, a luxury denied many along the coast. They understand that Giving is the Best Way to Get Great Gifts. For the complete article see the 11-15-2012 issue.
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