or participating in educational outreach programs. From dropping spare change into the Salvation Army’s red kettle to filling up an Operation Christmas Child shoebox or selecting an Angel tree ornament, it’s not hard to find ways to help out and eastern part of Prince William County, assists anywhere from 700-1,000 families per month by providing them with two weeks’ worth of food. During November, their clients are eligible for “Operation Turkey”, which provides all of the How can you help? • Clean out your pantry. Non-perishable items are always welcome. Check with one of your local food banks to arrange a drop off. • Make it a habit. Add a few items from a food bank wish list to your grocery list each week and then arrange a drop off once a month. • Sponsor a food drive in your school, church, neighborhood or organization • Participate in the Cub and Boy Scouts annual “Scouting for Food” drive. Keep an eye out for the Scouts distributing bags to local homes for homeowners to fill with nonperishable items that can be left outside for retrieval on a set date. • Volunteer your time. Food banks rely on the generosity of volunteers. Opportunities range from sorting food and sweeping floors on site to working with merchants and picking up food. You can also get involved with educational outreach by teaching resume writing skills, nutritious food preparation or coupon clipping. Girl Scouts help a Fauquier FISH client load a completed food order into their car. make the holiday season a little brighter for someone else. The options, both large and small, are nearly endless. Our region offers many wonderful organizations whose goal it is to help those families in need get through the holidays and, indeed, the rest of the year. Local food banks exist to provide nutritious food to families in our area that need supplemental aid, sometimes only for a week or two, and sometimes for extended periods due to illness or loss of employment. Food banks are community-driven entities that are run almost exclusively by volunteers and are dedicated to serving our neighbors here in the Piedmont area. Thousands of families in our immediate vicinity are helped each month by these food banks. Tara Jennings-May, the Public Relations Specialist with ACTS PWC, reports that their organization, which services the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal, including a gift card families can use to purchase a turkey or ham. Last year, “Operation Turkey” served over 1,500 families - a total of 6,845 people - from our area, and ACTS PWC is expecting an increased need again this year. Eileen Smith, the director of marketing for the Haymarket Regional Food Pantry, which services Haymarket and the surrounding areas, says that they are currently helping an average of 512 families per week. Last year, they provided more than 500 food baskets at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas. They too expect need to increase this year. Thanks to these organizations, families who might not otherwise be able to put food on the table at all are instead able to provide their children with a real holiday meal, right down to the turkey and all the traditional trimmings. Items commonly needed: • canned meat canned tuna, salmon or chicken • pasta • pasta sauce • cereal/hot cereal • pancake mix • syrup • dried beans • canned fruits, vegetables, soups • boxed meals (Hamburger or Tuna Helper, macaroni and cheese, etc.) • stuffing/rice • mashed potatoes/gravy • baby food (in plastic containers) Most of the food banks in our area depend on donations from local merchants and individuals within the community to keep them going. Because of the current economy, the need for the food banks’ services is increasing all across our area but donations are on the decline. This holiday season, when over-indulgence is • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • baby formula coffee/tea peanut butter jelly condiments diapers (especially larger sizes) wipes soap deodorant shampoo toothpaste toilet paper milk eggs meat the rule, embrace the exception and consider turning some of your excess into someone else’s holiday blessing. Tracy Baker is a 1999 graduate of the Virginia Tech College of Business. She lives in Warrenton with her husband and two young children. 2013 • Issue 6 Piedmont Family Magazine 9