Gov. Christie visited the Lowe's Home Improvement store in Toms River Wednesday morning, kicking off the state's "Season of Service" campaign in one of the communities most affected by Superstorm Sandy.
Christie joined local officials, including Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3), and Lowe's executives at the Hooper Avenue store, where employees were helping distribute enough Thanksgiving meals to feed 3,000 people.
The Season of Service is a volunteer initiative encouraged by the Christie administration, aimed at encouraging the end of the year as a time to give back.
The meals, provided by Boston Market, came in the form of 500 bags enough to feed six people each.
"We want to be here and see people on this holiday," said Christie. "It's important for everyone tomorrow to take a deep breath and remember all the loss that has impacted this state, but we have to take a moment and give thanks."
The governor said he'll spend Thanksgiving at his home in Mendham with 16 guests, but acknowledged some New Jersey residents won't be able to spend the day in their own homes.
"Wherever your home is tomorrow, be with your families," he said. "I thank God for the minimal loss of life due to this storm."
Lowes officials on hand said they wanted to open up their stores for the meal distribution after realizing so many of their own employees had been affected by Sandy. Some of those employees were helping with the efforts Wednesday morning.
A large crowd of people had already gathered at the store by the time Christie arrived.
The governor was joined by First Lady Mary Pat Christie, Runyan, township officials as well as former New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers player Jim Dowd, himself a local resident who has lived in Brick and Point Pleasant Borough.