ALEXANDRIA, VA–What do the holidays usually mean to you? Coming together? Giving? Food? For members of the Beverley Hills neighborhood, it means all of the above. Several churches and volunteers came together Thursday, December 3, to organize a food drive and blessing for five local food banks.
The five food banks include Casa Chirilagua, Grace Episcopal Church, Christ Church (The Lazarus Project), Rising Hope, and Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also taking some food to give to families in Arlandria.
Trinity United Methodist Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called for volunteers to help feed their friends in Chirilagua. On Thursday, December 3, a semi-truck carrying 40,000 pounds of food pulled into the parking lot across from Trinity United Methodist Church.
“We have been doing food drives since Covid started, but we decided to ask for more from headquarters in Salt Lake City this time,” says Amy Barker, JustServe Specialist of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
And more is what they got!
The truck came across the country with twenty tons of food items like pasta, flour, black beans, corn, soup, peaches, pasta sauce, pancake mix, peanut butter, mayonnaise, green beans, and more!
Mostly non-perishable items, the food was delivered in boxes stacked strategically on shipping pallets. The volunteers separated specific food items as requested by the food banks, and loaded them onto U-Hauls to be delivered. With the plethora of volunteers, space, and equipment, this process was swiftly and smoothly accomplished.
Amy especially praises Mary Gillman, Mission Team Lead of Trinity United Methodist church, for her help and hard work in organizing the food drive.
“We are grateful to Mary,” Amy says. “She’s helped with setup, logistics, and getting signs and tables.”
To which Mary responds, “Trinity United Methodist Church helped provide the space. It is really a community feeling.”
The volunteers spanned a range of ages and backgrounds, but their reasons for being here resonated with one another. For a couple of volunteers, Karen Lemke and her daughter Meredith, volunteering is a way to give back to the community.
Karen states, “It’s been a tough time for everyone. We wanted to provide something—money, labor, time, product—and give in any way we can.”
Once all the food had been unloaded and divided, Pastor Grace Han of Trinity and Bishop David Gordon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, each gave a blessing over the food, those who helped prepare it, and those who shall receive it.
“This is really what it means to be a neighborhood church,” notes Pastor Han. “Faith communities coming together to receive a blessing over the food, all who will receive it, and all who need it most.”
Bishop Gordon underscores this notion by adding, “It is imperative we reach out. This act is not just one church, but its neighbors, friends, and all people of Alexandria.”
As the need for food will only increase, “this gathering brings about the essence of the Christmas season,” observes Bishop Gordon.
Outside, at work, and socially distant, the members of the Beverley Hills community represent the newfound spirit of the holidays.