Men from Fairfax and Loudoun volunteered together and managed the constant traffic of shopping carts as 50,000 pounds of non-perishable groceries were loaded into vehicles of families in need from Sterling, Ashburn and Herndon. Christ the Redeemer Catholic processed 55 families an hour, totaling 397 carts between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Working in parallel, Trinity Presbyterian in Herndon handled 404 grocery carts. Seventy-three walk-in families were served at the end of the day.
Photo by Frank Simmons
Friday, Nov. 16 was an extremely busy day as volunteers were sorting food and clothing and tweets were going out seeking additional food items. Facebook was updated with requests for more volunteers to help. On Saturday morning at 8 a.m. LINK was ready to receive the first of 800-plus families.
When the day ended shortly after 4 p.m., LINK and volunteers had served 801 families (4,300 people comprising 2,066 adults and 2,234 children) food to last five to seven days, fresh produce and meat from Capital Area Food Bank. Volunteers made direct deliveries to 11 homebound families; $21,930 was distributed in grocery card gift cards; 1,592 winter coats, 1,748 pairs of gloves and winter hats and 1,035 scarves and other winter items were distributed to 320 grateful families.
Over 500 volunteers helped in the week long pre-staging and the event day efforts for all programs. Caring people were needed to collect and pre-stage the food and clothes at the three area churches. Volunteers coordinated the whole event, contacting schools and social workers, comparing recipient lists with other agencies, scheduling guest appointments, managing the ever-changing volunteer shifts, staffing the guest registration desk and providing Spanish translators.
Knowledgeable people worked with the school listing, and maintained the web site and the data collection process. Experienced volunteers managed the task of getting packers, bags, drivers, addresses, and families all matched together and ensured there was breakfast and lunch at the break rooms. Other volunteers handled the grocery gift cards or loaded guest vehicles with overflowing bags of groceries.
LINK will repeat the process on Dec. 15, but will replace the coats and clothing with new unwrapped toys. As of today, we need about 3,800 new toys for children newborn through 16 years old. It is a huge goal, but one I know we can meet and possibly exceed with assistance from our wonderful Loudoun and Fairfax community. We also need more food to fill the empty shelves left after Saturday.
If you would like to help by coordinating a food or toy drive within your community, church, neighborhood or business, please contact LINK at firstname.lastname@example.org.