Church group to donate $70k worth of food to pantry that lost founder to coronavirus

Posted Apr 02, 2020

A food bank that recently lost its leader to complications from COVID-19 will be getting a major helping hand from a local religious group.

In partnership with the Convoy of Hope, The Life Christian Church of New Jersey is set to donate $70,000 worth of food and supplies to the Helping Hands Food Pantry in Teaneck.

The delivery is expected to arrive Saturday.

“We’re concerned with making sure our efforts as a church reach far beyond our church community, especially in times of crisis,” said Olivia Betances, director of operations for Life Christian Church.

Betances, who also works as an administrator at Teaneck High School, said her church wanted to give back to a community in need. On top of being a hot spot for the coronavirus, Teaneck lost a beloved member of its community Monday when Janice Preschel, a dedicated civil service leader, died after contracting the coronavirus.

Preschel, 60, was a co-founder of Helping Hands and a former president of the Teaneck Rotary.

Gov. Phil Murphy highlighted Preschel’s passing at a Wednesday afternoon briefing, echoing township officials’ statements that Teaneck had lost a “true woman of valor.”

“She had the heart of a lion,” said Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci, a longtime friend of Preschel’s. “Always, always, always putting the needs of others in front of her own. There was nothing she wouldn’t do to help someone to put food on the table."

Staff and volunteers from the The Life Christian Church, which has locations in West Orange and Paramus, unloaded 26,000 pounds of supplies from the Convoy of Hope in preparation for Saturday. The Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, non-profit organization in Springfield, Mo., sent supplies in a 18-wheel truck. The truck made the haul from Missouri to West Orange, arriving this week.

In addition to its large donation to Helping Hands, TLCC will also be sending grocery bags to the West Orange Board of Education.

“Our neighbors may already be dealing with a crisis of faith and fear. The last thing they need right now is worry where they will find food for their family," Terry Smith, lead pastor and founder of TLCC, said in a statement.

Food banks like Helping Hands from across New Jersey have asked for increased donations as demand has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is more information on how to help food banks around the state.

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