It was just three weeks ago that the Lowe's on Route 9 was packed with people scrambling to get a generator following the power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
On Wednesday morning the parking lot was the site people went to seeking a different kind of help. The home improvement chain donated thousands of meals across the area to help people affected by the recent storms have a real Thanksgiving experience even in these unusual times.
Store Manager Fred Ortley said even now people are still coming to the store for generators but is glad they can give this kind of help as well. "I think it shows and demonstrates what a great company we work for," he said. "We're here for the communities and we have to give back."
As part of the program Lowe's also gave free meals to all their employees for their service during the storm. Ortley said many of the people working in his store have found other ways to help those in need. "A lot of the employees are actually saying hey, there's more need out there so I'm going to donate my meal to the community."
The help the program provided was definitely appreciated by those that lined up on the cold fall day. "It's really nice to be supportive of the community, to people who lost a lot during Sandy and people who didn't have the opportunity to have Thanksgiving," said a Jackson resident. A member of her town's EMS squad, the woman said her family had lost a lot of food in their refirgirator as a result of the extended power outages and the meal helped take some pressure off their wallet for the holiday.
A Howell resident said she was glad to see the storm continuing to bring the community together. "It's a blessing," she said.
The program also had help from Trenton as Governor Chris Christie and members of his administration spread across the state to help give out the meals.
Marc Larkins, the CEO of the state's Schools Development Authority was at the Howell location on Wednesday and said he was glad he was able to help. "I think it's a fantastic thing for the holidays and in light of the recent devastation for the state to step up and help needy families and also first responders, the people who were involved in making people safe and getting us back on the right track."
Larkins said events like Wednesday, "while small to some are important." He added, "A lot of people have needs, a lot of people are still not in their homes. So anything we can do as a token of appreciation or a show of support goes that much further to getting us back to normal."