Meals that heal

Teachers donate to Hackensack Meridian Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood

A+nurse+picks+up+meals+delivered+to+the+hospital+from+Ridgemont+Pizza+%26+Restaurant+in+Park+Ridge.+Pascack+Hills+teachers+Virena+Rossi%2C+Kaitlyn+Mahaffey%2C+Charleen+Schwartzman%2C+and+Deb+Horn+created+a+GoFundMe+page+to+provide+meals+for+healthcare+workers+at+Hackensack+Meridian+Pascack+Valley+Medical+Center+in+Westwood.+

Contributed by Kaitlyn Mahaffey

A nurse picks up meals delivered to the hospital from Ridgemont Pizza & Restaurant in Park Ridge. Pascack Hills teachers Virena Rossi, Kaitlyn Mahaffey, Charleen Schwartzman, and Deb Horn created a GoFundMe page to provide meals for healthcare workers at Hackensack Meridian Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood.

Ilmie Xhaferi, Staff Editor

When Pascack Hills teachers Virena Rossi, Kaitlyn Mahaffey, Charleen Schwartzman, and Deb Horn publicized a GoFundMe page to faculty members, they never expected to surpass their $3,000 goal in less than two days. 

Three days after it was started on April 7, $5,225 was raised from 113 donations.

Contributed by Kaitlyn Mahaffey
Healthcare workers enjoy their meals from Nino’s Pizza & Restaurant in Hillsdale. Pascack Hills teachers started a GoFundMe page to provide meals for those fighting the coronavirus at the Hackensack Meridian Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood.

All proceeds have provided meals from local restaurants for healthcare workers who are fighting the coronavirus at the Hackensack Meridian Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood. The meals have been delivered by restaurants, teachers, and parents who have volunteered.

“Healthcare workers essentially don’t have time to make their own meals because it’s so crazy busy,” Schwartzman said. “If we could provide meals for them that are quick, hearty, and delicious, they can eat and do their thing so that they can go right back to work.”

The teachers first became aware of the need for meals through Rossi, who was informed by a Ramsey PTO member that many healthcare workers do not have the time to buy or cook their own meals. 

The first donations were from district administrators and teachers, one of them being Pascack Valley chemistry teacher Christopher Nilsen who donated $50. 

“I think that [providing meals to healthcare workers] is a win for people donating, as well, because we might be thinking, ‘How can we help if we’re sitting at home and we’re not supposed to be going out?’” Nilsen said. “I think that this is a good way to help out, especially since we’re not allowed to nearly be out to help others.”

Horn said they started “getting names from people [they] did not recognize” since the page was then shared on Facebook and Twitter.

“It felt really exciting to be part of a community that wanted to give,” Horn said. 

Meal deliveries to the hospital were provided by Nino’s Pizza and Restaurant in Hillsdale on April 13, Ridgemont Pizza & Restaurant in Park Ridge on April 20, and Marc’s Deli & Pizzeria on April 23. Schwartzman said that the Hackensack Meridian Pascack Valley Medical Center requested that they prepare 50 meals for deliveries. 

“I spoke with someone [at the hospital] and they are beaten up,” Schwartzman said. “[Healthcare workers] are working 12 hours, so if [providing meals] is an opportunity to make one thing easier for them, let’s do that.”

Since the hospital is also receiving meals from other donors, the teachers are waiting for more dates for drop off. Extra donations will be used to provide meals for the Hillsdale Volunteer Ambulance Service and funds for the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund. With their goal being raised, the teachers have disabled new donations for the fundraiser, but they hope to reopen the page by May 1. 

“We want to be able to help, but in terms of how we’re able to help is very limited,” Mahaffey said. “[Delivering meals] is something that we can actually do to help the people that are fighting the good fight. We wanted to support our local businesses and our healthcare workers during this crisis.”