They came from near and far.
Their ethnicity didn’t matter one bit.
No one asked about their socio-economic background.
The line to get in reached as far as Devon Street and the Belleville Turnpike at times, three blocks away.
And everyone who pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot at the Pike and Schuyler Avenue was given a large, free bag of groceries, all courtesy of the three brothers who own the place.
Saied, one of the three, says he and his brothers, who operate several 7-Eleven franchises, spent $20,000 in their personal cash, along with donations from 7-Eleven corporate, to put on the event here in Kearny and at one of their locations on Long Island. He says they wanted to wait a while since there had been numerous other events with food giveaways.
“We knew we wanted to do something, we had to do something,” Saied says. “This is a great community and we wanted to give back to the people who have allowed us to be successful here in Kearny. So many people are hurting because of the pandemic. It’s been horrible to witness.”
Indeed it has. But it certainly wasn’t horrible to see so many pleased people.
They’d first line up on the Pike. Then, they’d be handed a ticket from a volunteer corporate officer. Once pulling into the parking lot from the pike, they’d hand the ticket to Saied, or an employee of the Kearny branch, who then directed drivers to pull over to a might pile of grocery bags.
They’d be handed a bugling bag of groceries, which had plenty to eat and drink. And that was it. They’d drive off via the Schuyler Avenue exit.
No one was asked if they were unemployed. No one was asked their residency. There was an honor system but it didn’t matter — because the brothers just wanted to do some local good.
And they accomplished that.
“I come here for coffee and a roll every day — and it doesn’t matter who is working at the counter, everyone is just so nice, every time,” a Kearny woman who asked her name not be used, said. “Moe is my favorite. He works so hard. And it’s not always easy for him to get around. What a guy.”
Because of the expected large crowd, which caused some traffic at the noontime event on Friday, June. 18, the Kearny Police Department was on hand, near Forest Street, to help control traffic. Passers-by were asked if they were there for the event — and if they were, they were sent to the right-most lane to continue to line up. If they were just driving through, they were directed left — and it was on to the traffic light at Schuyler. Given how many people were in the area, it was really well directed. The traffic flowed nicely. Everyone seemed to take it all in stride.
Including Gary Mika, a short-order cook who was heading to a nearby pharmacy, when he learnt of the special 7-Eleven event.
“I was going to pick up my son’s medications, when I saw the line,” Mika says. “I asked the officer what was happening here, and he told me, so I got on the line. For my family, these last few months have been a struggle. I’ve been out of work, just got unemployment after waiting for weeks. This will help us for a few days hopefully. I don’t usually come to this 7-Eleven, but I will from now on. I can tell you that.”
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.