‘Families Working Hard But Struggling to Make Ends Meet'

‘Families Working Hard But Struggling to Make Ends Meet'

Britepaths needs donations to feed hungry residents.

Lisa Whetzel

Lisa Whetzel

Fairfax-based nonprofit Britepaths helps local people in need in many ways, It gives them the tools they need to obtain jobs and manage their financial obligations. It also feeds them when they’re hungry – but with so many people to feed, Britepaths can’t do it without a hand from the community.

“Britepaths’ Food Bridge Program provides regular deliveries of food and/or grocery-store gift cards to 80 families in the Fairfax County area, for six to nine months, while they work to overcome a financial crisis,” said Executive Director Lisa Whetzel. “Most are working with mentors and coaches in our Financial Literacy and Workforce Development programs.”

“We also assist approximately 300 families per year with emergency food when their cupboards are bare,” she continued. “Many of the families we serve are working hard but struggling to make ends meet in our expensive area.”

As a result, Britepaths is seeking an assist from area residents, businesses and organizations. “Our greatest need is grocery-store gift cards to help our families purchase fresh foods that meet their children's dietary needs,” said Whetzel. “A large number of our families also receive financial education through Britepaths, and grocery cards help them put the budgeting skills they are learning to work.”

Anyone wishing to help may make a secure donation via https://britepaths.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=7

Monetary contributions enable Britepaths to purchase gift cards for groceries at a bulk discount. All funds donated on this secure page will provide these cards to local families to help fill gaps in Britepaths’ food-delivery calendar, assist those who are on the waitlist for its delivered-food program and provide emergency assistance.

Donations may also be made by mailing a check payable to “Britepaths” to Britepaths, 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22030. Be sure to write “Food Bridge” on the memo line. 

Other Ways to Help:

* Run a grocery-store, gift-card drive. Go to https://britepaths.org/Food-GCDrive20 for information on running either a gift-card or food drive virtually or in your neighborhood/organization to help Britepaths’ client families. However, at this time, Britepaths does not recommend collecting at grocery stores.

* Be a Food Bridge supporting organization. “We need local organizations to collect and mail grocery cards to Food Bridge families each Sunday,” said Whetzel. “If you are interested in learning how your organization can be a Food Bridge Supporter, once or twice a year, contact cgarris@britepaths.org.

* Donate to Britepaths’ food pantry. Britepaths is at 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax. The pantry is in its office near Route 50/I-66. It generally accepts pantry donations and gift cards on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

However, those wishing to bring food to the pantry are urged to call ahead because office hours can sometimes vary. “We cannot promise to be available to receive your donation if we don't know in advance that it’s coming,” said Whetzel. “Please call 703-273-8829 or email info@britepaths.org to coordinate the time and date of your delivery.”

Another option is to order Britepaths’ most-needed items through its Amazon Wish List, and they will be delivered straight to its pantry. Even if ordering something else through Amazon, people may log in via Britepaths’ Amazon Smile page, and they’ll help even more – for any Amazon purchases they make.

Currently Needed Food Items

At the present time, Britepaths is very low on several food items in its pantry, plus other supplies, including reusable grocery bags to send the food home with its families. 

The most-needed food items: cereal (healthy, low-sugar), cooking oil, jam/jelly, pancake mix, syrup, rice and healthy snacks such as crackers, pretzels, popcorn and granola/cereal bars. The pantry also has an ongoing need for pasta and pasta sauce, Parmesan cheese (shelf-stable), fruit cups in 100-percent juice, dried/canned beans, peanut butter and oatmeal in canisters. (Anything already opened, dented cans or any food past its expiration date cannot be accepted.)

Needed household items: paper towels, laundry detergent (liquid or pods), all-purpose cleaners, Windex, toilet-bowl cleaner, Clorox wipes, sponges and cleaning supplies. Hygiene items needed: toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors. Note: For hygiene products and toiletries, full-sized products are preferred.

Baby Items needed are diapers, sizes 5 and 6; and Pull-Ups, sizes 3T-4T and 4T-5T; Baby Wipes, baby shampoo and baby lotion.