Norma Taylor is hard at work on her gift list, but she needs your help to make sure all 500 people from Lawrence and Hamilton townships who are on that list receive something special this holiday season.
You see, Taylor is the driving force behind a holiday food basket program that benefits elderly residents of Lawrence Plaza Apartments on Princeton Pike and Alvin E. Gershen Apartments on Klockner Road who are either struggling financially to put food on the table or who are all alone because they don’t have any family left or their families have abandoned them.
Taylor is trying to raise the estimated $14,000 or so needed to fill the 500 baskets (actually, reusable canvas bags this year) with chicken soup, pasta, sauce, instant oatmeal, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, canned vegetables, rice and other items.
It’s an ambitious undertaking for this, her fourth year running the drive. In 2009, 80 baskets were handed out, followed by 160 in 2010 and 200 last year.
Adding to the challenge are some health complications that Taylor is experiencing following knee replacement surgery she underwent earlier this year.
Nevertheless, she said, she wants to see each person at the two apartment complexes get his or her own basket. “I don’t want to see any old person sitting back and watching as somebody else gets a basket,” she explained. “It’s heartbreaking because that could be me, that could be you someday. People don’t realize that.”
The drive is sponsored by Saul Funeral Homes and Lawrence Township's police unions, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 209 and Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 119. Taylor is a longtime police dispatcher/communications operator in Lawrence Township who also works part-time for Saul, where her daughter, Mary Weber, is a funeral director.
Monetary donations for the food drive are currently being accepted.
“Even $1 buys a can of tuna or a jar of sauce or a pound of spaghetti. It all helps,” Taylor said.
Donations of other items will also be accepted, she said.
“I’ll take anything. If someone wants to give a box of cookies, I’ll take a box of cookies. It’ll make somebody happy. That’s all I want to do, just see the smiles on their faces,” she said. “No matter what anyone gives – plants, boxes of candy, pizzas – we’ll donate them between the two places and they can use them for their Christmas parties. Would that make the old folks happy? Absolutely.”
Taylor said the food baskets will be distributed to the seniors on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
“You always hear about Christmas parties for these kids and those kids, but you never hear anything about the old folks. I just want them to know they’re not forgotten.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation can send a check payable to either Norma Taylor or Mary Weber in care of Saul Funeral Homes Inc., 3795 Nottingham Way, Hamilton, N.J. 08690. Anyone with questions can contact Taylor at (609) 954-4328 or Weber at (609) 249-5408.
Last year’s coverage:
- Dec. 6, 2011: “”
- Dec. 23, 2011: “Holiday Food Basket Drive for Seniors a Success”