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Giving Food and Thanks

Area volunteers provide local families with food for Thanksgiving.

Allison Levy can't forget one recent Thanksgiving when she gave a local family a box of food for a Thanksgiving dinner. Levy, a District resident and member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Vienna, was out delivering food with the Pathfinders, a church youth group.

When they arrived to the home of the mother and son, they sang some songs to her while giving the food. As they were singing, the mother wept.

"She just started crying. She just felt that somebody really cared for her," Levy said.

Levy's Thanksgiving delivery is the kind that the Committee for Helping Others (CHO) makes every year during Thanksgiving. This year, CHO will give 55 families boxes of canned goods, turkeys and food certificates. Local businesses, organizations and individuals donate the goods to CHO, which are collected from just before Thanksgiving to the Christmas season.

"Between businesses and churches, we make out pretty well for an unannounced program," said Carolyn Mysel, CHO's organizer for the food drive.

Starting in October, Mysel sends out letters to clients that CHO has helped throughout the year. From there, CHO gauges who needs what and when during the holiday season.

While CHO helps out families during Thanksgiving, they have a food, clothing and toy drive in December, which helps out a greater number of families. Last year, they served 187 families during the Christmas season.

"A lot of times, people go to relatives for Thanksgiving," Mysel said.

The groups that volunteer to give food or certificates to the local families that CHO serves in Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring and Merrifield say they enjoy the opportunity every year.

"We do that as a project just because we want to help other people who are less fortunate," said Cheryl Komorowski, an administrative assistant for Vienna's Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

This year at the church, congregation members challenged the Pathfinders to provide Thanksgiving dinners to eight families instead of the usual four, according to Levy.

The Pathfinders easily met the challenge by collecting 20-some bags of canned goods. They packed the boxes of food during the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Levy said she appreciated the spirit of giving that comes from the annual project.

"I like that we can help other people in the community," Levy said.

For Christmas and the upcoming winter season, CHO is accepting donations of food certificates, toys, and gifts for teenagers, Mysel said. They are also accepting monetary contributions.

For further information, contact Mysel at 703-938-7213.

CHO, formed by members from various community and religious organizations, serves low-income families and individuals in Vienna, Oakton, Merrifield and Dunn Loring.