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Courtesy of Our Robbinsville

ONE Project board members Danielle Liegl, Lauren Beaver, Stacey Kierman, Rajnarind Kaur and Indy Samra are among the volunteers who helped pack 10,000 meals for those in need.

ONE Project knows a thing or two about massive volunteer events. Every summer, the organization hosts the Hunger Project event, where 2,000 people gather at Robbinsville High School to pack meals for the food insecure—the event typically yields 150,000 meals packed and ready to go in four hours.

“This event neatly embodies both the mission and vision of ONE Project to bring people of different backgrounds and faiths together to address social needs through education and volunteerism,” wrote board member Danielle Liegl. “In other words, to work as ONE to make a difference.”

This year, though, things obviously had to change. The Hunger Project was cancelled, until the organization recalibrated and decided to reschedule—with some pandemic-appropriate guidelines. 

Starting in October, 20 ONE Project volunteers got together on a handful of Saturdays to safely pack meals in a masked, socially distant setting at Firkin Tavern in Ewing. The program, dubbed “ONE Firkin Meal at a Time,” will have netted over 10,000 meals by December. The final meal packing event of the year was scheduled for Dec. 5, but was canceled at the end of November due to COVID-19 restrictions. The remaining 2,500 meals were packed separately.

“It’s an event that we are really proud of,” said ONE Project chairwoman Stacey Kierman. “We were certainly disappointed to not be able to host the Hunger Project this year due to COVID, so we pivoted our thinking to continue to make an impact on the community during this difficult time.”

Liegl said ONE Project was able to keep busy throughout the pandemic with other initiatives as lockdown pressed on. Volunteers worked with the Sikh Sabha Neighborhood Langar in Lawrence and the Rolling Harvest Food Rescue in Titusville. They also helped pack meals and craft no-sew blankets with the Rotary Club of Robbinsville Hamilton and Be Kind, the Joy of Giving.

“After these wonderful experiences, we realized we could still tackle local food insecurity by hosting meal packaging events on a smaller scale,” said ONE Project director of events Lauren Beaver.

So ONE Firkin Meal at a Time was born. Around 80 volunteers got together for two hours on Saturday mornings to safely package 2,500 meals each session. Meals were donated to local nonprofit food suppliers, including Rise Food Pantry in Hightstown. 

“These events continually show us how people of a community can really accomplish a lot and make a difference when they come together as one,” said Rajnarind Kapur, the organization’s co-director of student involvement.

To donate or to volunteer, visit oneprojectnj.org.