Day to Serve: Help the Hungry
By Cari Bilyeu Clark
Bob McDonnell, governor of Virginia, has officially declared September 15-29, 2013 a time for all citizens to give a Day of Service to help the needy throughout the Commonwealth. This year’s theme is “Help the Hungry, Heal the Planet.”
Despite being an area known for high incomes, Fairfax County has a number of citizens who are unable to make ends meet, and many are served by local charities and food pantries, which provide food to needy families and individuals.
To help the hungry by refilling the pantries’ shelves, various local congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) will be soliciting donations of non-perishable food at several Giant, Safeway, and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores throughout Fairfax County on Saturday, September 21.
Last year, over half a million pounds of food were collected by Latter-day Saint Church members for the Day of Service. Over 10,000 volunteers donated more than 21,000 hours collecting and transporting the donated non-perishables to food banks in the Washington region.
All food collected locally will be distributed to area food banks, including Ecumenical Community for Helping Others (ECHO), Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA), and Our Daily Bread (ODB).
“Last year, the ACCA Food Pantry served over 2,700 individuals with a one-to-two week supply of food, and an additional 216 families were given a three-to-five day food supply for major holidays,” says Richard Magleby of the Annandale Ward of the LDS Church. He also noted that the manager of the ACCA Pantry, Jean Rackowski, expressed appreciation for the donations from the Day to Serve activities, which were valued at $13,132 and helped meet increased requests for assistance from families affected by the economic recession. ACCA is supported by 26 area churches, including two LDS congregations.
ECHO is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization begun in 1968 to help families and individuals in need through church congregations. Last year, the Day to Serve Food Drives led by LDS congregations donated over 8,000 pounds of food to the organization. “ECHO serves families in the Springfield-Burke area,” says Amy Darger-Stewart, a member of ECHO’s Board of Directors as the congregation representative from the Rolling Valley LDS Ward. “In addition to providing food for families in need, ECHO provides clothing and household goods to low-income families,” Stewart adds. These items are provided free of charge to the needy, who are referred through one of the 25 congregations involved.
Our Daily Bread, in Fairfax, helps low-income families who often must choose between paying rent and buying food.
Karma McLeskey, of the Burke Ward of the LDS Church, helms the grocery store drives. “I had the idea last year. It seemed like a good place to collect food and people who had not heard about the Day to Serve would have a chance to make a donation.” McLeskey approached the corporate headquarters of Giant, Safeway, and Shoppers Food Warehouse to set up the day for collection. “Last year, some people took the list we were handing out and purchased every item, and brought a full grocery cart out for donation,” she says. “All the stores were enthusiastic about helping us collect food for the hungry.”
Hector Noriega is the coordinator for the event for the Springfield LDS Ward. “The Day of Service provides such a wonderful opportunity for all of us to participate and contribute to our community’s needs,” he says.
On September 21, representatives from local LDS congregations will hand out lists of items needed, and shoppers can purchase and donate at area Giant, Safeway, and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores.
For further information or if you would like to join the activities please contact Karma McLeskey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703 455-9309