Ed Rumley Paterson Press
As workers and volunteers prepared takeout meals for hundreds of residents and local community members at Paterson’s Eva’s Village, a special visitor stopped by on the day before Christmas. One of the Silk City’s favorite sons, former New York Giants’ star wide receiver Victor Cruz, donated a gift of $11,000 to the non-profit organization.
“This is not the first time Victor has reached out over the years,” Marie Caliendo of Eva’s said. “The first time he came here was in his rookie season. This donation will fill in some of the gaps where money is needed for essential services like food distribution and shelter.”
Beginning in 1982, Eva’s has assisted thousands experiencing food insecurity, provided shelter for the homeless, aided those recovering from substance abuse, and more.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization’s spacious lunchroom has not been able to be used due to social distancing restrictions, according to Caliendo. From Monday through Friday, 400 packaged meals are distributed to local families at the door and another 200 are provided for residents who live at the facility.
“We are so happy that Victor comes back to Eva’s and the Paterson community,” Howard Haughton, Interim CEO at Eva’s stated. “His presence helps us in promotional efforts which, in turn, enable us to continue to assist those in need.”
Cruz addressed a small audience that included Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.
“I always want to embrace the community that has meant so much to me,” Cruz stated. “I’m excited that I could come today and be a friend during the holiday season.”
Standing beside her father, and holding his hand, was Cruz’s daughter, Kennedy Cruz.
“I think it’s good that my dad helps others,” the 9-year-old said. “It’s important that people get the things they need.”
Since his days of catching touchdown passes in the NFL, Cruz has worked tirelessly for his foundation in helping families and children. As a youngster growing up in Paterson, Cruz regularly participated in activities at the Paterson Boys & Girls Club where the recently renovated swimming pool was named in his honor of his philanthropy.
In addition, Cruz has maintained physical fitness. The former fleet-footed wideout, famous for his celebratory scoring salsa dances in gridiron endzones, has been featured as commentary on a host of major networks for NFL games. One of Cruz’s latest endeavors was being chosen as a contestant on NBC TV’s Titan Games, which the network touted as an, “endurance-based mental and physical challenge of epic proportions.” Aired in 2019, the series was hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Before holding up the rectangular, cardboard facsimile of the donation’s check and posing for photographs, Mayor Andre Sayegh anointed the guest of honor with the title, “Santa Cruz.”
“Eva’s Village has always been a staple organization in Paterson that truly supports the needs of the community,” Cruz concluded. “This pandemic has hit cities like Paterson around the world in the worst way. I’m just happy I could team up with some amazing people to help them continue in their impactful work.”