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HIGHLANDS – Volunteers are invited to participate in a food and supply drive to assist the municipal Food Pantry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church sponsored Nov. 1 by Phoenix, in collaboration with the Highlands Police Department, Raritan Bay Ruckers and the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Institute. Announcement was made by said Police Captain George Roxby, in praising all participants who are helping those in need.                       

The drive, which begins at 9.am., includes participants filling backpacks and rucksacks at one specific location with a variety of items of both food and hygiene products and marching to the Food Pantry in the basement of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on Navesink Ave. and delivering the items. The group will then meet at the American Legion Post 143 for lunch, then ‘ruck’ back to their starting point to complete a six mile trek.

The event is limited to 50 participants, all of whom must agree to proper social distancing and Covid safety measures during the march.  Registration is required and possible by contacting www.thephoenix.org/find-a-class/in-person.

The Phoenix is a nationwide non-profit organization whose mission is to build sober-active community that fuels resilience and harnesses the ability to rise, recover, and live after recovery from a substance abuse disorder. The organization provides free events including CrossFit, yoga, meditation, hiking, biking and social events like art and game night to individuals who maintain 48 hours of continuous sobriety, regardless of whether a person is in recovery from substance use disorder or mental health challenges, or is a supporter of someone who is, including anyone who simply wants to live a sober lifestyle. specifically are you doing?

The Phoenix, in collaboration with the other organizations, chose the Food Pantry as their beneficiary to combing their efforts to spread awareness of substance use disorder, veteran PTSD and suicide, and the newly launched “Unhooked” police initiative in the borough with an event that will help those in need at the Pantry. Bringing a group of people together to participate in community service and community connection is one more initiative for those recovering from any mental challenges or former abuse.

“Our police department recognizes there is always a need for additional nonpunitive tools to help people who suffer from substance abuse disorder, “ Said Capt. Roxby. “We were able to partner with the fine people at RWJ and the Phoenix to help give us options other than jail.”

Roxby noted the local department participates in a variety of programs to help others, including their annual National Night-Out,  LEAD and the police explorer program, all with the mission of forming strong bonds within the community.  “Our unhooked program is another approach which has been successful thus far,” the officer said. The unhooked program gives the local police department the added resource of getting help at police headquarters. Officers will provide people with a substance abuse disorder with immediate access to a recovery coach specialist who will help them navigate through available resources. Roxby said the department offers this option to provide substance abuse help rather than formal charges in specific circumstanced with the aim of recovery rather than arrest. 

The event is sponsored, in addition by the local department by the Highlands/Seabright PBA

Monmouth County Sheriff’s FOP/PBA, Remax High Point and Harbor Wellness.

Christopher Spallina is NJ Program Manager for The Phoenix, and Highlands Police Sgt. Matt Chesek is the coordinator for the OLPH Pantry event Nov. 1.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative of this effort to contribute so many needed goods to our pantry,” said Trish Curtin, who, together with her husband Dan, organized and  manage the Food Pantry. “We have many people who rely on the Pantry, and many people who come as specific times of need in their own families, so we are always grateful for every opportunity to keep our shelves filled for everyone who visits. This organized effort by so many groups is deeply appreciated by us, by the many volunteers who  with an aigive so much of their time every week to keep our Pantry filled, and by the people who take advantage of what we can do for them.  Highlands will continue to be the great community it is because of so many generous people. ”

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