FILLING THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS by Adrianna Donat
A local charity reaches out to those in need on two continents
One day about 10 years ago, Jane Collins-Colding was on her way to do charity work at Newark First Families and saw a man in his early 20s waiting patiently with an empty bag. As she recalls, “He told me he’d recently been released from 10 years in prison and was hoping he could fill his bag. His family had moved away while he was incarcerated. He didn’t have anywhere to live, and he was hungry.”
There was a need to be filled, and Collins-Colding was on the job. And though she hadn’t named it yet, the charitable organization Feed 2000 was born in that moment. “I decided I was going to help young men and women feed and educate themselves,” she says.
So she marched into Freedom Ministries Worldwide, a local religious and rehabilitation center then active in Newark, and hashed out a plan with its pastor, Charlie Thompson.
As a resident of South Orange, Collins-Colding was well placed to gather donations from her South Orange and Maplewood community and bring them to Freedom Ministries, which in turn distributed items to Newark families in need.
It may have worked too well, because before long, Collins-Colding and her friends were tapped out. She needed to keep the donations coming. There was a lot of need in Newark. They had potential to help a lot of people if they could find more contributors. So she reached out to SOMA businesses and churches.
Brenda Ehlers, an associate pastor at Maplewood’s Morrow Memorial Church, was happy to help. Each year Morrow has its famous Turnover Sale in July. Ehlers asked Collins-Colding if she’d like to select from the inventory and bring it over to Freedom Ministries; the practice has continued for almost 10 years.
And other SOMA businesses lined up, too. Milk Money, a children’s consignment shop on Ridgewood Road in Maplewood, donated over 200 winter coats. Says its owner, Jaime Haber, “At the end of the season, my wonderful and generous consignors allow their items to be donated to different organizations. Thanks to Jaime, she makes sure these items are used for those in need.”
Even South Mountain Elementary kindergarten educators Serena Watkinson and Debbie Wright helped, donating bags of shoes from their classes’ annual drive.
But there were still a lot of people in need.
Eventually, Collins-Colding started to wonder if she could lure more donations with a tax-deductible status. “I didn’t know how I was going to approach that. It was not something I’d done before, and we had no money to hire legal help,” she confesses.
That’s when she received a call from a professor at Rutgers Law School. “He said their students could incorporate [her] charity free of charge,” Collins-Colding says.
She was delighted. And Feed 2000 was official.
After Pastor Thompson at Freedom Ministries passed away, Collins-Colding affiliated Feed 2000 with the Vailsburg Assembly of God, just off South Orange Avenue in Newark.
You might think Collins-Colding filled the need she saw and could move on. But despite starting Feed 2000 and finding time in her personal life to foster 15 children at various times (and adopting two of them), she saw more need and moved forward. “This is what I do. It’s my calling,” she explains.
While bringing her kids to school, Collins-Colding noticed there was a snack container for hungry kids at Columbia High School. It was mostly empty. She contacted Karen Weiland at the South Orange Maplewood School District’s Parenting Center, and last year they worked together to make sure CHS kids have enough to eat. Bags of food were donated by companies like Trader Joe’s and Costco to fill the snack box and CHS students’ stomachs.
And she wasn’t done yet. Collins-Colding wanted to give back to her community in Liberia, where she was born. So Feed 2000’s mission expanded again. Partnering with her grandfather’s church, Feed 2000 was able to create a school that admitted 147 students the first year. Kangars Town Elementary School is now in its fifth year in operation.
The school has angels here in Maplewood and South Orange with Morrow Church sending clothes and supplies. “We often see students who are barefoot and hungry when they come to our school. By graduation, they are clothed, fed and educated,” Collins-Colding declares with pride.
Collins-Colding has seen need in New Jersey and in Liberia and has risen to try to meet it. But this laudable effort can always use more helping hands. If you’d like to assist Feed 2000 this Thanksgiving and beyond, you can donate money online at Feed2000.org. You can also visit the website to ask about volunteer opportunities. As Thanksgiving approaches, the need for people to help prepare and serve meals is significant. And donations of canned goods, especially traditional trimmings, are always appreciated. Reach out, and help Feed 2000 do the very best it can.
Adrianna Donat is a freelance writer who recently published her children’s book The Mustache Fairy, just in time to celebrate the Movember Foundation’s annual month-long drive to support men’s health.