Christmas came early for a few hundred eastern Loudoun residents.
LINK, a network of area churches that partner for food drive and community service events, hosted its annual Christmas food bank and toy donation drive Dec. 17.
“They serve hundreds of people every time and the smiles on their faces are incredible,” said Van Corbin of the Loudoun County Omega Psi Phi Alumni chapter. The chapter joined local boy scouts, religious education students, church personnel and several other groups that volunteered their time for the drive.
Food distribution centers were set up at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Sterling and Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon. Volunteers walked families through a grocery store-styled set up, allowing them to select food for themselves and their families. They were also given gift cards to Shoppers grocery stores to help meet needs above and beyond the food drive.
“I think it’s important to help the families that need the assistance be able to live in this county.” Lisa Lombardozzi, LINK
Afterwards, families were invited to Herndon United Methodist Church, where each child could pick two toys. Nearly 2,000 children were registered in advance, and LINK procured more than 4,000 toys with help from Toys for Tots, Costco and other donations.
The Christmas food drive, as well as a similar drive around Thanksgiving, typically takes at least a week to set up. Hundreds of volunteer man hours are needed for the event itself, which lasts most of the day to serve as many people as possible.
LINK has facilitated volunteer events and donation efforts in Sterling for 44 years, including one of the region’s oldest food banks. Along with the holiday drives, LINK donates food every week during the year.
“I think it’s important to help the families that need the assistance be able to live in this county,” said LINK president Lisa Lombardozzi. “We have a lot of great resources and I think (some residents) are living pretty much hand to mouth, and they’re working as hard as they can work and its expensive to live here. So for organizations like this, it’s a way to help them feel they can make it. Without things like this, I think it would be overwhelming.”