NEW PROVIDENCE — April is National Donate Life Month and the NJ Sharing Network is expanding an idea it hopes will further the conversation about organ donation in the Garden State.

Elisse Glennon, NJ Sharing Network vice president and chief administrative officer, said 120,000 people nationwide are awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant. So for the next month, more than 150 restaurants across the state will pitch in by drawing attention to two of New Jersey's favorite treats: pizza and coffee.

Throughout April, pizza boxes and coffee cup sleeves at the participating establishments will bear the link to the website, in what Glennon said are "beautiful," "eye-catching" designs. Once on that site, anyone can look up his or her hometown and see just how many people are waiting to receive organs in that particular community.

"We talk a lot about having a conversation with your family about organ donation," Glennon said. "We don't want you just to register to be a donor, but we want you to have a conversation with your family. So when you order a pizza box, you're typically with other people."

Pizzerias, coffee shops, diners, hospitals, and colleges are all part of the effort, which grew from 1,000 pizza boxes last year to 15,000 this year, and from 60,000 to 250,000 coffee sleeves. Glennon said many of the involved pizzeria owners have their own personal connections to organ donation, driving home the point that it could be a neighbor, friend, or cousin who's affected.

In 2017, NJ Sharing Network's concept — which at that point was one weekend only — exploded on social media, and staffers will be able to track the 2018 outreach results through the same website printed on the boxes and sleeves.

"We're hoping, when people get driven to the website, they will share it on social media and the conversation will continue far beyond the campaign, which is what happened last year in our pilot program," Glennon said.

The community is to thank, Glennon said, for funding the materials for the boxes and sleeves, through NJ Sharing Network's charitable foundation.

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