During his Saturday afternoon press briefing, Murphy said Dominic Mercado, a 6th grader at Sgt. Pilla Middle School in Vineland, had an "unusual request" for his 12th birthday presents.
This is Dominic Mercado. It’s his 12th birthday. For presents, he asked his community to bring him boxes of pasta and jars of tomato sauce that he will donate to the Vineland Soup Kitchen. Yesterday, more than 100 people donated.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 18, 2020
Happy Birthday Dominic and #NJThanksYou! pic.twitter.com/dDUV9dcVCw
"He asked for his neighbors and community to bring him boxes of pasta and cans and jars of tomato sauce that he will donate to the Vineland Soup Kitchen," Murphy said.
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On Friday alone, Murphy said more than 100 people, practicing social distancing, drove to Dominic's table set up outside his home and dropped off birthday presents for the boy to donate to the kitchen.
Since the emergency started, the governor said the Vineland Soup Kitchen has gone from serving approximately 120 meals a day to almost doubling that amount.
The Vineland Soup Kitchen posted video of Dominic to their Facebook page. Dominic said he picked these particular food items so people who will need them in the near future will have access to them without worry of them going bad.
"They might already have food for this week and next week, so these won't expire for a while. (The food) won't perish for a while," Dominic said.
Dominic's dad Carlos is a Vineland firefighter, which led the governor to remark, "Obviously the apple of service does not fall far from the tree."
Murphy then had one more message for the 12-year-old.
"Dominic, we wish you the very happiest of birthdays and we thank you," Murphy said.