Love Thy Neighbor


Yours Truly, Tara-Jean

She stood on the beautiful grounds of the Peppadew Fresh Farm in Morganville, surrounded by her family, friends and her neighbors. The tears in her eyes and emotion in her voice let us know how deeply moved she was by this incredible outpouring of love.  This past year Denise was diagnosed with cancer. Not only did she have the sole responsibility of caring for her twin boys who were only in 1st Grade, but she had begun to fight the battle of her life.  The words of thanks she spoke on this warm summer evening reflected the months of struggle she has already endured. Denise said, “I will never forget this time in my life.”

Carol Mazzola, Marlboro Township Councilwoman and member of the Kiwanis Club of Marlboro gathered together more than 100 neighbors, friends and family to give their support to this local mother during her time of need. Kiwanis covered the cost of hosting the event at the Peppadew Fresh Farms on Boundary Road in Marlboro. Local donations were offered by The Wine Academy, Abbate Bakery contributed their cookies and Peppadew Fresh Farms provided the space.  Other local businesses such as Investors Bank and Bella Vista Country Club donated monies to the fund that was set up by Kiwanis.

The Kiwanis chapter in Marlboro is one of 13,000 Kiwanis organizations established in over 80 countries. They are devoted to identifying and responding to the needs of their communities. In Marlboro more than 30 active and committed members meet once a month to explore ways they can assist with club service projects.

The event was a perfect representation of “Love Thy Neighbor” It gave many people the opportunity to open their hearts. The Parent Teacher Association of Dugan Elementary was in attendance as well as the boys’ teacher and her family.  When the school and PTA first learned of her diagnosis, the decision was made to organize a baked goods food chain to deliver to Denise’s home to ensure her children would always have a warm cooked meal and Denise would be relieved of the stress of shopping and cooking. Anonymously, mothers from the Dugan PTA cooked and delivered full meals to Denise’s home each day during her initial treatments and surgeries. Play dates were also scheduled with the twins so Denise could feel confident that her children were being entertained and supervised.

Now, months later on this summer evening Denise responded with overwhelming emotion as she expressed her gratitude. “This was a fight I never thought I would have to take,” she said, “and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.” She expressed her pride in her community. She also acknowledged her friend and neighbor, Seth, who is also battling cancer and who has given her enormous inspiration.  The days ahead will still be a struggle for Denise, she has two more procedures scheduled this summer. Yet with the strength of her family, friends and community behind her, she and her children will have the ability to focus their energies on being brave and looking toward the future..

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