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.

A marathon AND a sprint….

Loudoun Hunger Relief is moving forward to meet the growing need. Every day brings a new challenge. The need for services is growing just at the time that we can’t allow volunteers in the building. We know this is a marathon, but we’re also having to accelerate at a sprinter’s pace to meet the demand for services.

Market Room use during COVID-19 crisis

Market Room before COVID-19 crisis

Market Room use during COVID-19 crisisWe planned for this crisis, and our emergency planning has served us well.  We’ve kept pace so far, and we’re working to make sure we can keep it up in the weeks (hopefully not months!) to come.

Our service numbers are up 50% in just three weeks. So many seeking services are newly unemployed–it’s truly heartbreaking. We expect that our service numbers will be up again this week. Each “number” is a family with a job loss or reduction in hours to cope with. We hurt for each of them and for our community.

On the bright side, we live in an incredibly generous place and donors have been helping us keep this ship moving forward. So many have supplied food and monetary donations, as well as sent lovely encouraging notes via email, snail mail or social media.

We thank everyone for the support, and the positive messages! Keep it coming!

 

It’s a lot….

In the last two weeks, nearly 1000 donors have provided money, food, or other material assistance to us as we geared up our operations for the need we know is to come. It’s a lot.

Today, our phones were ringing way more than usual for a Thursday morning, as many people in our area are facing their first week with no paycheck. People are worried about how they will take care of their families. It’s a lot to think and worry about.

We are humbled by the outpouring of support. We are equally humbled by the grace of those we serve. It’s a lot to take in.

The pace of change, the underlying anxiety, the generosity, the strength of spirit; it’s all a lot. We are grateful to live in such an amazing community, and grateful for the support we’re receiving. And it’s a lot!

The Six-Foot Shuffle…

We have had to make changes to our operations to comply with all CDC guidelines. We’re calling it the six-foot shuffle. We will probably have to make further adjustment as the CDC comes out with new information in the days to come, so please bear with us as we pivot. There’s plenty that has changed inside the pantry, but here’s what the public needs to know:

  1. We have changed our food donation procedures. Donors are asked to drop their donations off in a marked bin in the parking lot, or for fragile items, on a table next to the donation bin. For everyone’s safety we are maintaining six feet of distance between people. For this reason, we are currently unable to offer receipts for food donation. Staff cannot assist in unloading donor vehicles. We aren’t being rude, we’re just following the guidelines for public safety and social distancing. We’re asking donors who are unable to unload their own vehicles to please hold their donations for a happier day to come.
  2. We have suspended our volunteer program. There was no way to continue and still meet CDC distancing guidelines.
  3. We have changed our service delivery procedures. After careful consideration, we have moved to an all appointment service model effective March 23, 2020 and until further notice. Families and individuals should phone 703-777-5911 to make an appointment to pick up food.

Our hours of service have not changed, but we are asking all who need food to call to make an appointment so that we can maintain a proper number of people and safe social distancing at all times. We have asked that people arrive at their appointment times, and remain in their cars to be served.

We are minimizing person to person contact by collecting needed information from families in need of food by phone at the time they make their appointment.

We are further minimizing person to person contact by delivering pre-packed grocery orders curbside. This eliminates our ability to customize grocery orders unless there is a serious reason, such as a severe allergy.

Getting through today, preparing for tomorrow

It’s been a busy Monday at Loudoun Hunger Relief. We spent Sunday reviewing CDC social distancing guidelines, and we knew that the pantry is just too small to provide enough space for everyone to be inside safely. We made the hard choice to suspend our volunteer program, and we began to bring groceries to our families in need outside. We are doing our best to provide what people need while minimizing risk to everyone.

We had help from so many today! 7×24 Exchange, an association of data center service providing companies, arrived in the chill of the morning and packed 400 bags of emergency groceries in 2 hours. County employees from the Department of Parks and Recreation as well as from the Department of Family Services and the Voter Registration Office came to help pack another 600+ bags. It was an amazing, open air, socially distant, community supporting operation!  JK Moving came to the rescue, loaning us a truck and driver for a food pick up we didn’t have the staffing to make. Wegmans helped with heavily discounted cereal for our bag packs.

Today we provided food services to families in need at both our Leesburg pantry and our Sterling Mobile Market service location.

We provided bags of shelf-stable groceries for emergency preparedness to local first responders. We had bags ready early in the day for the Department of Parks and Recreation to provide to the seniors usually served in their centers. Bags got delivered to William Watters House in Sterling and arrived at Madison House in Leesburg (senior low-income housing). Tomorrow morning, Loudoun County Public Schools will pick up emergency family grocery bags to travel with them on the buses delivering breakfast and lunch to children and families throughout the LCPS system.

All in all today, our teams packed over 1000 bags and delivered or shared with other agencies nearly 700 bags. We’ll be at it again tomorrow morning, when we open for service at 8:30.

This is a challenging time for everyone. We are blessed to have the resources of our community and local government partners backing us as we strive to help low-income families and older adults get through today and prepare for tomorrow.

2020 Foresight! Microsoft in action at Loudoun Hunger Relief, #Neighbors@LHR

What a start to 2020! The play on words is a little tired by mid-January, but we’ll go with it anyway.  A corporation with a vision for thriving communities has embraced Loudoun Hunger Relief’s vision for a community in which everyone has access to adequate, nutritious food. We see only good things to come. Continue reading “2020 Foresight! Microsoft in action at Loudoun Hunger Relief, #Neighbors@LHR”

Happy First Monday of a New Decade!

It’s the first Monday of 2020, and we are so glad to be starting the new year well. Today, truckloads of donations came in from some of our 23 grocery store partners in Loudoun. Today, more than a dozen volunteers drove, sorted, stocked, served our families and answered phones. Today, the shelves are full and the refrigerators and freezers are stocked. Continue reading “Happy First Monday of a New Decade!”

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

As 2019 draws to a close, Loudoun Hunger Relief is so grateful. For nearly 30 years, we have been the conduit between generous people in our wonderful Loudoun community and our neighbors in need of help.

We learn something every day about the limitless goodness of people. Our donors provide for those in need–those they do not even know–with open hearts. Our volunteers provide hands-on service with humble hearts and gentleness.  At LHR, we have the privilege of seeing all that generosity act in the lives of those we serve.

We hear about the family who has lost everything and is rebuilding. We hear about tragic accidents, desperate illnesses, job losses, bad luck, and everything in between. But we also see the striving, the effort to make better lives for treasured children, the hard work and the gratitude.

LHR is grateful to everyone who walks in our door, whether to give or to receive. And we wish everyone the joys of this season, and the best of the new year.