Saturday, May 12, 2012

Food Drive

Starting on March 1, I attended a weekly committee meeting to help plan and coordinate the effort of each ward (congregation) in our stake (kind of like a school district). The meetings were long and went very late. There was a great deal of work to accomplish each week before the next meeting. Most of which involved getting and organizing volunteers to canvas different neighborhoods. I was in charge of organizing the effort in my ward (or congregation).

It was called Love Your Neighbor, Feed Your Neighbor. It was a food drive for ALL of Loudoun County. We used Scouting_for_Food as a model.  It was our Stake (group of 12 congregations) that organized the event, but it was truly a multi-faith effort. There was a great article about it in the LeesburgToday and another one in the AshburnPatch.

We had teams go out on May 5 to hang door tags in their assigned routes. Then they returned on May 12 to knock on doors and collect food. The food was then brought back to one of the drop-off locations to be sorted (check for expired or rusty or oozing food). Then we loaded it back into a truck or van to take to the various food banks/pantries throughout Loudoun. I even created an Event page for it on Facebook. I have never done that before but it was a great way for everyone to invite their friends and neighbors to participate.
My kitchen the night before. Boxes filled with food.

Kids with door hangers.
Bishop Anderson
Girls with wagon collecting food.
Signs put up at the church building for drop off.

Food from a route being brought in to be sorted.
We had a great assembly line for sorting food and getting it back into the vans.  I'm at the end with a black hat and purple shirt. We also had a wonderful group of kids from the high school Key Club come to help us sort.
There I am again, in the center, giving directions.
The result of our effort? We collected over 54,000 pounds of food! We also received a $12,000 cash donation that went to Loudoun Interfaith Relief. There is still more food trickling in. Everyone did a great job helping out. One of the pantries, Catholic Charities, said they think they have enough food to last them until the holidays. They feel blessed, and I feel blessed to have been a part of this.

I think most of the time I feel like the "poor are far from us". But they really aren't. While working on this project I learned that there are children at my daughter's elementary school who are living out of their cars. That is right here in our own neighborhood! How can teachers expect these kids to be able to learn when they are worried about food and shelter (bathrooms too!). More than anything I hope that this food drive has brought an awareness to the community. If we are aware of the needs then we can continue to help our and serve our neighbors.

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