Pantry needs wheels – so cast your vote

Pantry needs wheels – so cast your vote

Teaneck’s Helping Hands Food Pantry is asking for a few good clicks.

More than a few, actually.

The three-year-old food pantry was founded by Elie Katz, a Teaneck councilman and former mayor, and Daniel Meys, senior pastor at Teaneck Assembly of God.

Helping Hands is one of 500 finalists in a contest being conducted by Toyota on Facebook. Each day, visitors to vote on which nonprofit organization will receive a car.

Helping Hands’ turn comes on Monday, July 23.

“To win this car would really be a difference maker,” Janice Preschel, director of the food pantry, said. Preschel, like everyone who works for Helping Hands, is a volunteer. She now picks up donated food using her 12-year-old car.

With a new Toyota vehicle, she would be able to deliver food when people can’t come in to pick it up, whether because their cars are broken and they can’t afford to fix them, or because they’re elderly and the weather is too harsh, she said.

Helping Hands has 125 member families and singles. About 80 come weekly for nonperishable food; others, particularly seniors, come every two weeks.

Preschel is proud that unlike many pantries, Helping Hands distributes food weekly rather than monthly.

“Our feeling is that if you give somebody a boost once a month, what are they going to do the rest of the month?” she said.

In watching the results of the Toyota contest on Facebook each day, Preschel has noticed a trend.

“Animal-related organizations are winning big time,” she said. “They’re beating out rape crisis and homeless shelters and programs that are helping handicapped kids and adults and feeding people.”

So far, more than two-thirds of the winners have been animal-related charities.

There’s one animal charity competing against Helping Hands on July 23. That’s K9 Special Services of Alabama, which trains dogs for search and rescue work.

If you want to remember to vote for Helping Hands, you can go to the contest on Facebook at Press the remind button at the Helping Hands listing. Or you can like its Facebook page at, which will keep you informed about its activities.

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