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Volunteer Takes Vacation to Work for Link

Anthony Edward "Ed" Foy serves as volunteer food coordinator and driver.

These are Anthony Edward "Ed" Foy’s tools: a truck, a list and three days vacation.

Foy and his partner Len Zawistowski both work full-time jobs but come the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, they take off a few days. Far from relaxing, they are driving a truck to grocery stores, schools and churches, helping pick up boxes of food and delivering them to Christ the Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Sterling. The two men and a volunteer team of two other drivers have until this Saturday to collect food for the annual LINK Thanksgiving food basket program.

LINK plans to provide five days supply of food, grocery store gift certificates and coats to about 300 low-income families in Ashburn, Sterling and Herndon, LINK’s service area. The items are distributed in a grocery store setting in one of LINK’s 15 member churches.

"The truck work is behind the scenes, but you have to do it to make the event happen," said Foy, a Sterling resident for the past 23 years and a Maryland native.

FOY AND Zawistowski, who have been partners for the past two years, typically rent or borrow a truck the week before the Thanksgiving and the Christmas food basket programs. Each year, they pick up food from the Scouting for Food drive and 15 to 20 Loudoun and Fairfax County schools that hold their own food drives, along with borrowing tables from churches and grocery carts from grocery stores to bring to the distribution site at one to two of LINK’s member churches. This year, they will take most of the items to Christ the Redeemer Church and coats to Sterling United Methodist Church.

"[Foy] makes a difference but in his own quiet way, making sure we get thousands of pounds of food," said Carol Lavery, this year’s coordinator of the food basket program. "He even takes vacation time to do it."

As LINK volunteer Roberta Bruckschen said, "He’s always there no matter what."

Foy and Zawistowski do the same thing at Christmas time, but they also pick up toy donations from the Quantico Marine Base Toys for Tots program, schools, churches and other donors for distribution on Dec. 20. Following the event, the volunteers deliver the leftover food to the LINK pantry in Herndon, used to carry the non-profit organization through the winter. LINK, which formed in 1972, delivers food year-round and provides financial assistance to needy individuals and families.

"Obviously, there is a feel good factor for helping people," Foy said, adding that more importantly, "The reason any of us do LINK, we’re all Christians and we all know God loves people. What we want them to see is God’s love … working through us to help them out."

"His faith is very strong. He reminds us things will happen even if we don’t think they will," Lavery said.

At first, Foy did not have the faith. He joined LINK 21 years ago to get involved in volunteer work and to please his family, members of the Potomac Baptist Church in Sterling, another of LINK’s member churches.

"It would be a nice way to be involved with the church without going," Foy said, adding that at the time, "I certainly wasn’t doing it from a Christian perspective."

A YEAR LATER, Foy became a member of the church and turned to a Christian way of life. "It’s been a changed life since then," he said. "I’m serving something that’s real as opposed to making it up as I go along."

"Ed Foy is a wonderful Christian man," said Joyce "Joy" Trickett, LINK board member for the Drainesville Church of the Brethren "His support to the community has been exceptional for many, many years. He’s always been faithful in lending a hand to other organizations when needed."

Foy volunteers as Potomac Baptist Church’s LINK coordinator to solicit volunteers, coordinate volunteer work and serve as the liaison between the church and LINK, something he has done for the past six years. Each month, a church member provides food donations and deliveries through the volunteer work and hosts LINK’s monthly meetings.

"He’s been willing to help for a long time," said Judi DeCarme, recording secretary for LINK’s board of directors, adding that typically church coordinators serve in the role for one year. "He’s very friendly. He always has a smile for everyone he encounters. … He works tirelessly on the food baskets program. He helps out all day long when we’re distributing the food boxes, and he’s still there at the end of the day helping clean up."

Foy’s wife Zenda often hears Foy say that LINK and the volunteer work he does "put life in the right perspective. … We’re here to help," she said.

As Bruckshen said, "He’s a giving, loving person."

Foy works for the U.S. Geological Survey as a cartographer, a position he has held for the past 29 years. He majored in geography in college, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1974 from Frostburg State College in West Virginia, now a state university. "I would like to retire as soon as I can, so I can do more volunteer work," he said.

"You just know you’re doing something that really matters because God tells you it really matters. It’s not something you’re inventing," Foy said.