The Helpers, The Doers and the Pot Throwers & Decorators

It’s 2020, so we don’t have to explain why the Loudoun Empty Bowls event was completely different this year. Instead of a celebratory end of summer night out at the lovely Stone Tower Winery with friends and family, we had a two night drive through bowl pick up.

There were hundreds of air hugs, and lots of quick catching up among people who haven’t seen one another in a long six months.  Puffy clouds floated through a sky dimmed by smoke from far away fires, making for a spectacular sunset tinged with all the worry, grief, and angst of 2020. People were glad to come to the mountain to give help to those in need, and gather up a bit of hope for themselves.

Beauty in the midst of this very difficult year is very welcome. Here are a few photos of the loveliness that is Loudoun Empty Bowls. Let’s hope for a return to gathering and shared community next year. In the meantime, we’re grateful for the helpers, the doers, the pot throwers and decorators who contribute to Loudoun Empty Bowls and the effort to feed those in need.

Wait, what day is this?

It seems like time is going by in an otherworldly blur. Our routines have been upended, and our days look nothing like they did six months ago. With the rate of change we’re still facing, both in our personal lives and in our work at the pantry, it doesn’t seem like the ground will stop moving under us anytime soon. This is a hard year, this is hard stuff, and we are doing hard things.

People all over Loudoun are having a hard time in different ways. Parents are struggling with making the right choices to support their children’s educations. Seniors are struggling with the social isolation that is part and parcel of staying safe. Children are struggling with not seeing their friends for months upon months. Masks are a new fashion statement, but the rules keep changing about which ones work.

Layer economic insecurity over all of that, and you have an even harder struggle. Families with income loss have all the same hard issues to face as everyone else PLUS the stress and anxiety of having to choose which bills will be paid and which will wait for a later day of reckoning.

Every day at Loudoun Hunger, someone asks “Wait, what day is this?” Sometimes it’s a tired volunteer or staff person, and the question is asked with a kind of bemused exhaustion. Sometimes it’s a person in need calling for an appointment, and the question is asked because they are just so overwhelmed.

Whoever asks the question, everyone else understands why. There’s no judgement here for day confusion! It’s the burden of worry about what will happen today, and uncertainty about tomorrow.

What we can do is make sure, to the best of our ability, that there is enough food to help those who need it for as long as this situation lasts. And so we are doing our planning for the fall and winter months, sourcing shelf-stable food as much in advance as we can. We may not always know what day it is, but we are laser focused on helping those in need have access to adequate, nutritious food. That makes every day a day well spent.

Just for fun – TP in the Time of Pandemic

A Variety of sizes of rolls of TPSince the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen lots of different brands of community generosity. One of the ways people have been generous is toilet paper donations.
From the beginning, when TP was not to be had, we’ve gotten donations of it here and there. We’ve held them for our most vulnerable populations–our elderly and disabled shut ins.

Now that the TP is rolling again, we’re seeing donations of all sizes. This is what was on our shelves yesterday. Who knew TP was made in such variety!

A Closer (but socially distanced) Community

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted here. We have to be honest–things have been intense at the pantry. Demand for services has evened out, but is still triple what is was prior to COVID-19, and in some weeks still quadruple. Our staff and volunteers have worked so hard, sometimes in extreme weather, to keep up with the need and no one has held back effort.

We know that families are depending on us for their most basic needs, and we don’t take that lightly.

We’ve recently had an increase in COVID-19 positive families coming to us for food. We were already taking the utmost precautions in all interactions between people. Masks are required, and we’re doing our best to maintain six feet of distance. We’re offering masks to any family who needs them as they enter our parking lot. We’ve also worked with Loudoun County to provide groceries that county employees can deliver through medical referrals for COVID positive households. These efforts have required extensive planning and some really long hours. We also can’t discount the personal risk that our staff and volunteers are taking.

All this has drawn our already tight community of staff, volunteers and supporters even closer together. We appreciate one another’s efforts even more, and we’re deeply grateful for all those who are showing up and standing up for the most vulnerable among us.  Thank you to everyone who is helping us do this work. It’s never been more important.