What started as a mom-led effort to help food-insecure families has grown into a large volunteer group giving groceries, kids’ clothing and more to roughly 150 people in the Vienna area each week.
Self-described bargain hunters Sharon McKew and Grace Westreich got to know each other through a yard sale site. They told Tysons Reporter via Facebook Messenger that they are leading the efforts behind the public Facebook group Community Cares Vienna.
“It started after schools shut down, and I found out many of the students I worked with would no longer receive the ‘blessings bags’ from the school,” McKew said. “It was just a way to continue to get them food.”
Westreich said the group “exploded overnight.” As of today (Wednesday), it has more than 300 members.
At first, the donations came from McKew’s wallet and former families from a daycare McKew ran. Then, Westreich started giving donations, and the two teamed up. Westreich now manages the money, orders, donation solicitations and delivery logistics, while McKew directs the volunteers and handles the food.
Over time, the group has turned into a space for people to share and solicit donations for items like bed rails, baby clothes, book bags, lined paper for students and more. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact vulnerable communities, it’s clear from the messages posted in the group that there’s an ongoing need for food and supplies.
A study earlier this year by Feeding America predicts that one in six adults — and one in four kids — could experience food insecurity this year. Jade Leedham with Second Story, a local nonprofit helping vulnerable kids and young, told Tysons Reporter in July that she’s seen a decrease in volunteers and corporate sponsors while the need for support continues.
Community Cares Vienna is working to keep residents and local businesses engaged. The group’s extensive reach is thanks to the “amazing volunteers,” McKew and Westreich said.
So far, volunteers’ efforts have included making masks for kids and adults, delivering disinfectants, buying school supplies and paying for art camps for homebound students, McKew said.
That’s not all. An anonymous donor donated their stimulus check. One mother-daughter duo dropped off boxes and bags filled with activities for kids. Several people organized neighborhood drives, while others consistently donate groceries. Girls Scouts and former daycare kids have prepared bags of food and teachers and staff from elementary schools are making deliveries.
“Restaurants joined in, too,” Westreich said, highlighting local eateries that they made meals or donated:
- Inca Social
- Caboose Commons
- Foster’s Grille
- Mo:Mo House
- The Italian Gourmet
- Maple Ave Restaurant
- Nothing Bundt Cakes
“Sharon talks about kids waving from the window in excitement, the joy and sheer giddiness of knowing what the deliveries mean. Parents with tears of gratitude in their eyes,” Westreich said. “Sharon’s creed really has been, ‘No hungry bellies.'”
Photo by Maria Lin Kim/Unsplash
A solar panel array has been proposed on the future HITT Contracting headquarters building at Virginia Tech’s Idylwood campus (via Fairfax County) A massive array of solar panels could provide…
The Fairfax County Government Center building (staff photo by David Taube) Local officials are already preparing for “one of the most challenging” budget talks in years due to inflation, the…
Jason’s Deli will close its Idylwood Plaza location in December (staff photo by Angela Woolsey) Jason’s Deli will close up shop for good next month after more than a decade…
Wolftrap Creek in fall (staff photo by Angela Woolsey) Route 7 Lane Shift in Reston Starts Today — “On or about Tuesday, Nov. 29, the right-turn lane from eastbound Route…
Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.
He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.
The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.
Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.