Organizers said Tuesday Nov. 24, will be a big day for United Community Corporation.
In preparation for Thanksgiving, Newark’s community action agency will be hosting two separate events to provide assistance to those in need.
Throughout the day, officials said they will be distributing food throughout the City of Newark and Essex County with help from its partners and in the afternoon, it will be hosting a ’Friendsgiving’ event at Newark’s West Side Park.
All events will follow the state’s social distancing protocols and will require facemasks.
“We are going to continue to serve this community regardless of what is going on around us,” UCC’s Director of Youth, Family & Senior Services Yucleidis Melendez said.
“The heart of UCC is that no matter what, we will still serve the community and we will always find a way to do that. I love that about UCC.”
The distribution was made possible by food donations from Community Food Bank and Roosevelt Community 4U.
United Community Corporation has worked with both organizations in the past. Community Food Bank has provided a large majority of food for UCC’s Champion House Food Pantry, which has serviced over 150-thousand individuals since the start of the pandemic, while Roosevelt Community 4U was a key partner during this summer and fall’s mass drive-thru food distribution events held throughout the city, which served over 20-thousand at each.
Monday, United Community Corporation will work with its nearly 40 partners to distribute turkeys, chicken, vegetables, canned goods and other groceries throughout their pockets of the community.
“It is a blessing to be working for UCC,” Maria Torres, who manages UCC’s food pantry, said. “I’m so proud to be part of UCC’s staff and to be able to help serve our community. When my staff and I get phone calls from people that need our help, it pushes us, even more, to continue doing what we are doing.”
United Community Corporation’s second annual Friendsgiving event will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Newark’s West Side Park. Turkeys and other groceries will be given out at the event, in addition to winter coats. As each guest leaves the event, they will be provided with a hot meal in a to-go package cooked by Ideal’s Diner and Lick the Lid Restaurant.
The to-go meals will also be provided to clients at United Community Corporation’s Fulton Street emergency shelter.
The event is being run in partnership with Beauty For Ashes, Saydah’s Career Planning Adventure, Inc., Amerigroup RealSolutions, Unstoppable Girls, Pads 4 A Purpose, Apostle's House and C&S Church. Roosevelt Community 4U also provided vegetables and candy for the event.
“This year is more important to me, my staff and UCC in general,” Melendez said.
“A lot of things have been going on in the world, so to be able to do something for the community regardless of what is going on means a lot to our agency and our community.
It shows that we are not stopping. We are still going to be there for the community and there to provide services.”
United Community Corporation offers a wide array of services.
Its food pantry delivers 14 days' worth of food to infected families forced to quarantine due to COVID. In addition to distributing food, UCC's Fulton Street emergency shelter has operated 24-hours during the pandemic, its energy assistance program has ensured that families have heating, air conditioning and power, its youth programs have continued both virtually and in person, and its housing assistance programs are prepared to help deal with an anticipated influx of evictions and crucial rental/mortgage assistance once the moratorium is lifted.
United Community Corporation’s service counts have reached 50-thousand in August, September, and October.