Donations for Catholic Charities’ Community Services have declined significantly, especially support for its food pantries in Trenton and Burlington. File photo 

Donations for Catholic Charities’ Community Services have declined significantly, especially support for its food pantries in Trenton and Burlington. File photo 

From staff reports

Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton is in need of both monetary and food support, as donations have decreased in the past few months for its Community Services program.

“We count on the community to partner with us to help their neighbors in need,” said Arnold Valentin, director of Community Services. “So we’re putting out the call: We need help now. Please, do what you can, because your support can make a big difference for hundreds of people who live on the margins in our area.”

Community Services, CCDOT’s poverty-reduction arm, is welcoming financial donations of any size, as well as food, small household items, new or gently used clothing and other items. The drop in donations is threatening to impact those who need food, housing and other basic needs in Burlington and Mercer Counties.

“New Jersey is one of the richest states in the country, yet one in 10 residents experience hunger and food insecurity,” Valentin has said.

Valentin said it’s unclear what contributed to the drop in donations, though it may be partly related to the relocation of Catholic Charities’ food pantries in Trenton and Burlington County, which impacted walk-in donations.

In April, CCDOT’s food pantry in Trenton combined with that of Mount Carmel Guild, creating a merged location at the Guild, 73 N. Clinton Ave. The change allowed Catholic Charities’ food pantry to expand into a larger space that also has a parking lot.

In Burlington County, the Community Services’ new headquarters opened in March with a larger, 7,000-square-feet facility that not only aids those who struggle with poverty, but also behavioral health issues and substance use disorders as well. The new facility is at 460 Veterans Blvd., Burlington.

Another factor to the increasing need for donations is county funding to Community Services, which has fallen in Burlington and Mercer Counties, Valentin said.

For example, in Burlington, county funding fell $46,000 from the previous two-year contract, spurring Community Services to find creative ways to cover the difference, Valentin said. Staff have been embarking on an eBay venture, placing high-value donated items online for sale and using all proceeds for those sales on Community Services’ most urgent needs. Longer term, Community Services plans to move its clothing-donation bins to parish properties, which will reduce rental costs.

For details on how to help or donate, visit Catholic Charities at https://www.catholiccharitiestrenton.org/ways-to-give/