ASBURY PARK — Yvette and Reggie Anderson walked into the Asbury Park train station Saturday morning and made an announcement: They had a U-Haul van full of clothes, food and toiletries for anyone in need.
“Thank you for not forgetting about us,” someone replied.
The Andersons then handed out scores of care packages to a long line of folks — some of them homeless. One woman, wearing a sweatshirt in the 30-degree cold, politely said she was in a rush to make a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
“I gave her a coat and she said, ‘My God, it’s like you fell out of the sky,’” Yvette Anderson said. “She gave me the biggest hug and she walked away with a little bit of pep in her step.”
That’s the goal for the Andersons, who distributed more than 500 packages between three stops, hitting New Brunswick’s train station and then Newark Penn Station after Asbury Park. They did it last January too, but with the help of social media and word of mouth, the crowd as Asbury Park was much bigger this time around.
“Last year it took about 10 minutes,” Reggie Anderson said. “This right here, look at the mount of people who are coming out. This is a true blessing.”
RELATED: The ‘house of turkeys’ in Manalapan
The Andersons, who live in Jackson, have made it their mission to help others. It began in 2010 with Thanksgiving baskets for struggling local families and a Christmas toy drive for underprivileged children. Growing up in Manalapan, Yvette Anderson was inspired by her grandfather Richard Pearson, who sought to help others despite their own difficulties.
“Being part of a family in need as a kid, it’s a blessing to give back to families now, knowing and understanding what that felt like,” said Yvette, who is 47.
In 2014, the Andersons were expecting a baby boy when Yvette was diagnosed with preeclampsia — a life-threatening pregnancy condition. Little R.J. was born three months early. He survived just one day.