MONALAPAN – On a recent Saturday morning, vehicles lined up in front of the Manalapan Center for the Elderly on Freehold-Englishtown Road as drivers waited for food delivery to continue to support them and their families.
And this food was brought to each car by benefactors who have volunteered to support the Samara Center, which has been helping people in need for almost 40 years. The center has no paid staff and relies on the work of volunteers.
The Samaritan Center began as a joint ministry of the parish of St. Thomas More and the Presbyterian Church of Old Tenent, both in Manalapan. He manages a food pantry that aims to provide extra food for the poor and needy in Manalapan, Englandtown, Marlborough, Morganville and Millstone.
Martha Amata is the executive director of the Samaritan Center. She coordinates the work of volunteers and food gatherings that take place every two weeks.
The Samaritan Center is under the control of the Board of Trustees, and the president of this board is Tony Morelli, a former longtime resident of Manalapan who served on the Manalapan-Anglictown Regional School District Education Council and the city committee.
As Amata and volunteers completed a grocery distribution assignment, Morelli said in an interview that the Samaritan Center’s mission in 2022 remains what it was when the organization was founded in 1988.
At the time, Morelli said, people in need turned to local churches, and these requests for help led to the formation of the Samara Center. The original site was a building on Harrison Avenue in Angletown.
Although the communities served were suburban in nature and the residents were mostly self-sufficient, there was and remains a section of the population in need of assistance. In 2000, for example, 17% of the population in Manalapan lived below the poverty line, Morelli said.
Nearly 20 years ago, when the Samaritan Center had to leave a building in Angletown, Manalapana municipal officials allocated space in the senior center, and the Samaritan Center continues to operate from that location today.
“We are asking for a contribution from the community,” Morelli said. “These contributions allow us to survive. We get food from Fulfill, which is the food bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties, and from donations.
“We especially appreciate the food CDs held by local schools to support the Samaritan Center. These food drives are valuable because they teach children that there are people in need in their community, ”he said.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Samaritan Center was forced to suspend its work, but federal funds provided to families helped support people in need, Morelli said.
Now federal aid is running out, inflation has hit the United States, and people in the area are turning to the Samaritan Center for help again, he said.
“Mayor Susan Cohen and the entire Manalapan City Committee have supported us. During COVID, we put food in the town hall because people called her, ”Morelli said, adding that the Knights of Columbus 5903 Council in Angletown and the Yorktown Social Club in Manalapan were also supporters of the Samaritan Center.
Morelli said donations of funds and food are accepted with gratitude. The donations help the Samaritan Center to pay for expenses that include buying food, paying for insurance and operating the car. Because the Samaritan Center is a 501 (c) 3 organization, all contributions are not taxable.
The Samaritan Center does not discriminate against anyone because of race, skin color, religion, gender, religion, age, mental or physical impairment, national origin, or military status.
The Samaritan Center recommends that people in need of food call to make an appointment before being taken out.
For more information on donations to the Samaritan Center, call 732-446-1142.