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Neighborhood Expert: A community that gives back — Vienna Moms show up for food for others

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

If you’ve read my posts for a while, you’ll see there’s a theme among many that involve helping to combat child hunger. It’s a cause my husband and I are strong advocates and contributors to.

When my kids were in pre-school, their school held a power pack event where kids as young as three helped put together weekend food packs (2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, 2 snacks and 2 beverages) for kids in Northern Virginia who need it. It’s a great way to get young (or old) people involved in giving back and taking stock of their own position in life. I brought the idea to the Vienna Mom’s group and their philanthropy team as an event we could do as a community and offered to sponsor it to get the event started.

Man oh man, did the moms show up for this. We packed over 200 bags and have 10+ bags of unopened boxes of food we will be able to donate to Food for Others tomorrow. Here’s the part where this all comes full circle: Food for Others is also being impacted by supply chain issues and are having trouble making these packs. Guys, these are kids in elementary and middle school who don’t have access to enough food over the weekend. Being able to support them in this kind of way is astounding.

I’ve heard of girl scout troops organizing packing events, schools, etc. It’s really, really easy to do and a great way to get your kids involved.

Here are some tips I learned this weekend:

  • Make sure you’re very clear on HOW MANY items people need to bring. We had a very large surplus of granola bars, but ran short on lunch/dinner meals like Macaroni and Cheese cups, chili cups and tuna. You must also remember a box of mac and cheese is worthless to them if they don’t have butter and milk to make it. Likewise a metal can of food is worthless if they don’t have a can opener to open it. Make sure you’re very clear on the types of items.
  • Space out attendees. We had a lot of people show up in the first 30-45 minutes, so the bulk of the packing was done and the generous people who showed up last didn’t get to pack many bags because we ran out of items.
  • Be very specific on how many items go in a bag. There was some confusion on meals. So when you explain that they need lunch and dinner for Saturday AND Sunday, then people understood it was 4 meals, not just 2. We used signs and separated meals by tables.
  • They have a great website with how to plan an event, how to put it together, and what to include.

I want to personally thank everyone who donated, showed up, and helped with this event! This photo below is only PART of the finished product.

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