For many people in need in Paterson, New Jersey, lunch on Friday, Jan. 28 had the taste of a warm touchdown.
Victor Cruz, former American football wide receiver for the New York Giants, continued his long-time partnership with Eva’s Village to provide around 350 nutritious and freshly prepared lunches for Paterson community members who currently experience or are at risk of homelessness.
Cruz, a Paterson native, took this opportunity to also give back to his community through the Victor Cruz Foundation. His nonprofit made a contribution of $5,000 and 100 women’s coats that will strengthen the serving message of Eva’s Village.
Cruz explained why he is committed to community service.
“My mother was always encouraging me to go out into the community and give back to whatever capacity,” Cruz said.
Since 1982, Eva’s Village has been assisting the Paterson community to meet the needs of adults and children who are vulnerable to food and shelter insecurity, substance abuse, mental health disorders and healthcare and employment barriers.
With the pleasant smell from Eva’s Village kitchen announcing lunchtime, Eva’s Village staff, volunteers, church members, the Giants administration and Cruz got to work getting lunches safely packed and distributed to the community. Just a few hours before the snowstorm arrived on the East Coast, the lunch line started to form on Jackson Street and the first snowflakes began to fall.
Campbell Soup Company donated soup to be distributed to the community in recognition of the Giants’ commitment to community service. Ashley Lynn, the director of player engagement at the Giants, was named a Community Champion by the company for organizing annual Thanksgiving dinners at Eva’s Village.
Howard L. Haughton, the CEO of Eva’s Village, said he is grateful for the donations from Cruz and Campbell’s.
“[Cruz’s] generosity, combined with Campbell’s wonderful donation of soup, will not only warm the bellies of those we serve today, but their hearts as well,” Haughton said.
Loaded with many boxes of packed lunches, warm Campbell’s soup and bottles of water, Cruz and the Giants formed a production line to ensure everybody received every item for their meal.
One of the many people who benefited from the lunch is Eric Nunez. Nunez said once his unemployment benefits stopped last year, he has struggled to make ends meet.
“I don’t have any means of income, so I don’t have money to spend on food,” Nunez said. “Paterson is good in the sense that there will be helping hands. Nobody will starve.”
At the end of the lunch line, things started getting collected and cleaned. The hard work from the team was rewarded with warm lunches from Eva’s Kitchen.
For this Giants legend, having the ability to give coats away, organize drives and bring people together with the NFL team is beyond his dreams.
“I’m excited to be in a position to give back,” Cruz said “That’s what it is all about.”