You are hereNJ.Com: Man brings feast, gifts to homeless living in Lakewood's Tent City

NJ.Com: Man brings feast, gifts to homeless living in Lakewood's Tent City


-By Bob Considine

December 24, 2011- LAKEWOOD — There was food and clothing in abundance for the 70 homeless people who dwell in Lakewood’s Tent City today.

Just as rare as the feast provided by Tom O’Malley and his family on Christmas Eve was the abundance of smiles.

"These people are not here because they want to be," said O’Malley, 81, of Lakewood. "I’ve been very blessed in my life. I think it should be within everyone in society to want to do something to help those less fortunate than you."

Tent City, an encampment of tarp tents and enclosed wood-framed huts in the woods off Cedar Bridge Road, became a haven for the poor about five years ago, according to the Rev. Steven Brigham, the camp’s caretaker.

Over the past several years, O’Malley and his family have put up their own tent and filled it with holiday dinners that will likely go unmatched for residents the rest of the year.

O’Malley said he and his family provided four turkeys, four hams, untold pounds of corn, potatoes and other side dishes, not to mention eight different pies. The O’Malleys also gathered hundreds of pairs of socks and wrapped them up as Christmas presents.

"It’s a really nice day and a really great gesture on him and his family," said Charlie Errickson, 55, who has lived in Tent City for the past 18 months.

"The meal was great. It’s nice when people are willing to help like this."

"When people like Tom reach out with a generous hand and compassion, it makes you feel good," Brigham added. "It feels like you have a sense of dignity and self-worth when people treat you that way."

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