"Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” - Luke 6:38
By Lisa Lombardozzi, LINK President, visit www.linkagainsthunger.org.
God's grace is great!
As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we take the opportunity to thank God for all He does for LINK and our guests. I want to personally thank each one of you for the way you shared your time, talents and treasure in support of the needy families in our community! On Saturday morning, November 17th, we completed our final touches on the makeshift supermarkets and clothing store inside the churches. The sun shone brightly all day on this perfect 55 degree fall day. Hundreds of volunteers came to Christ the Redeemer Catholic, Trinity Presbyterian and Sterling United Methodist Churches to serve our neighbors in need.
For those who are intimately involved with the day to day (and hour to hour) efforts of the Annual Holiday Programs, we wonder whether it will all work out when 8 a.m. rolls around on Saturday. And you know what, it always does! It may not always be the way you first envisioned it, but it all gets worked out in God's time and in God's schedule. The food did get sorted (well, almost all of it); we were short on some food items, but had more of other items; volunteers came and were so motivated and helpful; and the Capital Area Food Bank delivered more than 2,000 pounds of delicious frozen meat on Friday night.
In the days leading up to Saturday, we were thrilled to see our area Boy Scouts drop off 36,000 pounds of food collected through the Scouting for Food program. LINK depends heavily on the non perishables supplied by the scouts for the majority of the staples we receive during the holidays. Schools in Loudoun and Fairfax County (private and public) donated food and gently used winter coats and clothing. Area businesses helped out with food and clothing drives and brought in more items. And individuals and civic groups supplied the remainder of our bounty. I’ve heard individuals or companies say they aren’t sure what they donate can benefit LINK because of their size compared to the huge community need. I want to assure everyone that LINK succeeds in its mission to feed people because of each and every one of the items donated.
One example is as follows; Polycom maintains a stocked kitchen (beverages and snacks) for its employees to enjoy – free of charge. Polycom’s Herndon office decided to donate their November snack money ($1,500) to the LINK Holiday Distribution Program. Polycom requested that LINK use the monetary donation to purchase fresh meat and produce for the Thanksgiving Distribution programs.
Friday, November 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 our 800 plus families.
When the day ended shortly after 4 p.m., LINK and our volunteers served 801 families (4,300 people comprising 2,066 adults and 2,234 children) food to last 5 – 7 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, 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 December 15th, 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 us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
On behalf of LINK, I wish each of you a glorious Thanksgiving with your friends and families!