Volunteer Spotlight: Allison Sargent finds blessings in helping the needy
By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
Allison H. Sargent, 63, of Montclair, volunteers an average of three hours a week, when not in peak times, for the Salvation Army in Montclair. Sargent has been a volunteer for 15 years, and she is very involved with the holiday Kettle Campaign, which raises money providing toys for kids, coats for the homeless and food for the hungry.
In this series, we highlight a hometown person who has given freely of their time and effort to help people, animals or the environment. To suggest a person or an organization for this series, email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I love serving people and giving back. It's a personal blessing and fulfillment. I encourage people to get involved in whatever capacity speaks to them. It is very gratifying, giving of yourself to others. It’s a commitment I take very seriously.
How did you get involved with the Salvation Army?
My family was very involved, my father and grandfather, and since I was a child, around 8 to 9 years old, I began going with them. We would go to Eagle Rock Reservation for Sunrise Services and [I’ve been] involved volunteering ever since.
What are some of your volunteering duties?
I am chairman of the board. I also chair the volunteer group that helps out at events and other responsibilities. I had many different roles in 15 years — preparing meals for the Sunrise Service, working diligently for Coffee and a Cause and I’m very active in the Kettle Campaign during the Christmas season. I also help with the Noontime Feeding Program and Shower Program. On Thanksgiving, I help with 1,100 meals serving 275 people, the rest we send [out to homes of people in need].
What have you learned while volunteering?
I learned the value of giving back to those that are less fortunate. There is a great need in Montclair. It’s in giving that you receive.
What’s your favorite part of volunteering?
Personal contact with people. The people that I meet when they get in line for a coat. I help them try it on. It’s a very heartwarming experience, particularly on Thanksgiving.
What’s the most difficult part?
I like to give more time than my professional time allows me to and sometimes it is frustrating.
How do you feel at the end of a day after you volunteered?
I feel wonderful. It’s the highlight of my Thanksgiving. I’m very grateful and blessed. I share my experience with my entire family.
How does your family feel about your volunteering service?
They are very proud of me. They know how much I enjoy it. I get them involved when I can.
What do you do on your free time outside of volunteering?
I spend time with my family. My children and granddaughter. I also do some church work, helping disadvantaged parishioners.
Do you do other volunteer works?
I do charity work for cancer organizations and hospitals, creating T-shirts through my company. I mentor a woman in New York City through Growth Source Academy. I used to be an assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts, and served on the Board of Education.
What is your occupation?
I own my own business, Allison Sargent Events in Montclair. I started the company 28 years ago after working in a fashion business in New York City.
Salvation Army Montclair Citadel
Address: 13 Trinity Place
Contact: 973-744 3312 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
General Services: Addiction counseling, hospital and shut-in visitation, information and referral services, prescription assistance, food services, food pantry, noon-time feeding program
Housing Services: Cornerstone Homeless Shelter, Homeless Prevention, Financial Assistance, and Utility Assistance
Seasonal Services: Christmas Assistance, Christmas Toy Shoppe and Thanksgiving Dinners.
Kettle campaign kick off: Saturday, Nov. 17, 1 p.m., on Church Street
Thanksgiving dinner: Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Citadel. Sign up by Nov. 16 for home delivery. Salvation Army and Toni’s Kitchen take turns. Christmas dinner is served at Toni’s Kitchen, 73 South Fullerton Ave., tk.slechurch.org, 973 932-0768 or email email@example.com.
Christmas Benefit Concert: Friday Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Citadel. Tickets $15 in advance or at the door.
Toy Shoppe for the needy: Sign up Dec. 3 and 4, application for eligibility required. Shop by appointment on Dec. 18 and 19.
Other Organizations to help those in need
St Luke’s Episcopal Church
73 South Fullerton Ave., Montclair
Contact: 973-932-0768 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meal Schedule: Lunch Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m.; Sunday dinner at 5 p.m.
See related story on Toni’s Kitchen at JANA JOYCE CREATES MORE THAN JUST MEALS.
Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless
MESH, Inc. P.O. Box 1919, Montclair, NJ 07042-1919
See website for calendar. Dinner is served at 7:15 p.m. every day but Sundays.
Operates out of local church kitchens.
See related story on MESH Café at JOHN LYTLE COOKS UP COMPASSION WITH MESH.
Human Needs Food Pantry
9 Label St., Montclair
Contact: 973-746-4669 or email email@example.com
Donation Drop offs: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon
Client pick-up noon to 2:30 p.m. and Thursday nights from 5:30-6:30.