The Helping Hands Ministry begun in 1982 at Epiphany Parish, Brick, has grown from a small food pantry to one that supported nearly 3,000 per year prior to the pandemic, or approximately 250 per month from Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

COVID-19 has changed the need dramatically, pushing numbers to almost 700 per month.

“We don’t require identification; we give food to anyone who says they need food,” said Helping Hands’ Claire Lebret. “Along with food, we provide clothing and household goods donated by the people of Epiphany [Parish].”

Thanks to the foresight of Father Michael Santangelo, pastor, the once small ministry was able to accommodate more patrons beginning two years ago with a move to the parish hall across the street. Deacon Ron Nowak and Epiphany’s Men’s Emmaus Group worked tirelessly to install sheetrock, shelving, move donated refrigerators and freezers, and designated storage areas throughout the building.

“The parishioners … have been so very generous with time, donations and encouragement,” Lebret said.

The pantry was recently featured on Fox News; Dana Perino, news analyst, hails from nearby Bay Head. To see the video, visit the parish Facebook page.