Editor’s Note: Our new series, Small Business Stepping Up, highlights businesses around town who are hard at work in spite of the coronavirus. Whether it’s serving food, helping the town stay healthy, or somehow giving residents some relief during the pandemic, these businesses are rising to the challenge of the virus, and even kicking its butt.
Do you know a business that should be included in this series? Email us the details at email@example.com and they can be highlighted.
When Fred Rogers would see scary things on the news, his mother’s words would comfort him. He often related this story: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
It was challenging to get Mihir (Junior) Patel, owner of Jefferson Market, to sit still for a few minutes to talk about his recent philanthropy. The Jefferson Chronicle caught up with him at his store where is typically found assisting customers from behind the counter.
Patel was originally approached by friend and customer, Lisa Tovo, on behalf of Jefferson Township Alumni association to donate food for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patel eagerly agreed and sandwiches were donated to the Saint Clare’s Dover division.
When area businesses heard about Patel’s donation, they wanted to help too. The next donation was made in conjunction with Norris Electrical Contractors located in Lake Hopatcong. Together they provided food to Saint Claire’s Hospital- Denville. This week, Patel is sending sandwiches and masks to Hackettstown Medical Center. With the help of Tovo, Mahir coordinates with the local hospitals to ensure the food will be distributed to various departments as needed.
Jefferson Market also offers a free sandwich to all public healthcare workers, volunteers, EMT, police, firefighters, first responders, as well as grocery store employees. All they need to do is present a work ID to enjoy a sandwich courtesy of Patel. Currently, there is no expiration date on this offer.
Patel is also going out of his way to get the supplies that residents need. His store has filled the void of antiseptic wipes, gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer periodically by traveling to other parts of the state to procure supplies. Patel has also added produce and fresh meat to his store’s inventory since some customers are hesitant to go to larger crowded stores. Updates are routinely posted to the store’s Facebook page to alert patrons of availability.
“We are just trying to help the local community”, Patel told The Jefferson Chronicle.