In August, many in the world of public safety spend time down the shore, out in the countryside, on cruises — doing any number of things that are not work-related. But for two of Kearny’s more well-known public safety workers, the last full month of the summer was and often is spent with them being Men for Others.
Enter Mina Ekladious, president of the Kearny PBA and Juan Barroso Jr., president of the FMBA.
Their last whole month of the summer of 2023 was spent spearheading the collection of items for the less fortunate before schools reopen and making a difference in their community. It’s became a hallmark of the duo who, though they’re running separate unions with vastly different needs, continue to band together for the greater good — a lot more than any time in recent memory.
First, they collected back-to-school supplies that were distributed by the Kearny Public Schools Uniform Exchange to town children at a recent public event. The KPSUE, the two unions and Super Laundromat distributed over $20,000 worth of school uniforms and also provided 332 Kearny children with school supplies to start off the 2023-24 academic year.
Super Laundromat’s co-owners, brothers Jorge and Danny Santos, covered the expense of laundering each and every uniform donation, all with a military-style fold job at the end.
It all started last year, when the PBA and FMBA assisted KPSUE founder Jennifer Franzese-Paz by incorporating Super Laundromat and raising awareness for the community’s needs. Donors included residents, Target, BJ’s, Walmart, Firepit Barbecue and Zach’s Garage, all of Kearny.
Both unions recognized the Santos brothers — the pair also donated a bounce house for National Night Out — who have been instrumental in the success of the KPSUE, for their efforts.
“This year’s back-to-school supply drive was even greater than last year. The FMBA is grateful for our residents, small businesses and major retailers for their support and contributions to an amazing cause,” Barroso said. “It’s not just about what we do on the clock but what we contribute to the community off the clock. We wouldn’t be able to do this without the community that continues to support us.”
Like Barroso, Ekladious was equally grateful.
“The outpouring of support from our residents, small businesses and major retailers blew me away,” he said. “The consistent support we receive from our residents and our small businesses goes to show how great our town really is. Our major retailers play an integral part as well. They consistently demonstrate that they aren’t in Kearny strictly to make profits but want to help our community every chance they get.
“Thank you to every single resident who went out of their way to donate school supplies. Those residents are the true definition of Kearny Strong. Our PBA will always work our absolute hardest to support our residents, children, seniors and veterans. We’re constantly working with the FMBA to assist our community that we serve proudly.”
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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.