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Turkey Drive Raises Over $10,000 for Foodbank in Just Days

Bella Vista and the ABC Networking Group began their fund and food raising efforts Friday night, and exceeded everyone's expectations. The group donated more than 8,000 pounds of food to the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

What can one organization raise and collect in less than one week? More than $10,000, more than 8,000 pounds of food and several pallets worth of canned and dried goods.

and the put the word out Friday night, when John and Wendy Bruzzese heard the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties need 1,500 more turkeys.

That night, at their networking event, they raised $390. Over the weekend, the raised $7,000 more. And when they dropped off their donation and food Tuesday evening, the group had raised more than $10,600, and they are still counting.

"As a group, we stepped up," said Bill Algokce of Bridge Financial, who was just one of the leaders for the drive.

Through social networking and reaching out to members, and even a few calls to NJ 101.5 radio station, the took off. Bella Vista County Club turned into a drop-off point, and its bar area a donation hub. Tuesday afternoon, just hours before the food was transported to the foodbank, donations and calls were still pouring in.

"No one has anything to gain, except to help other people," said Bruzzese.

The scene at the country club Tuesday was warm, as brothers Anthony and Gary Beshara welcomed those who donated time, money and food to see their literal pile of good deeds outside the front doors.

Bruzzese said he drove to Howell to pick up a check and food donation, and people that heard about the drive were just walking in with food. Beshera said one woman walked in with two turkeys, and told him that her business at a nail salon was not doing well, and two turkeys was all she could donate. Beshera hired her on the spot to work in the Bella Vista Salon and Spa.

"Talk about gaining from giving," Algokce said.

Mike Grieco and his team at of Freehold, as well as from Manalapan donated their time and vans to load, transport and unload food donations for the foodbank.

Jackie Berman of Pearls of Wisdom Media LLC donated her time to promote the drive through social media.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, the group had collected 1,000 pounds of potatoes, hundreds of turkeys, 500 cans of cranberries, cases of peanut butter, 20 cases of rolls, 10 cases of oatmeal and more. All together, there was more than 8,000 pounds of food collected and donated within a four-day period.

Beshara said the group has enough money to purchase 250 to 300 more turkeys Wednesday, and will continue to donate money as well as use any more money collected to buy canned foods.

100 percent of all donations are benefiting the .

Bella Vista is no longer accepting food donations, but will continue to accept monetary donations. Those interested can call the country club at 732-308-4600. The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is still accepting food at their Neptune location.

Bella Vista and ABC Networking plan to make this drive annual, and next year, with a little more planning, will more than likely surpass their goals.

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