ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Hundreds of volunteers spent the weekend before Thanksgiving helping those in need this holiday season.
Helpers gathered at the Gum Springs Community Center in Alexandria on Saturday morning to prepare more than 200 boxes of food to help the less fortunate.
“We’re going to feed about 225 families in the Northern Virginia area,” said Walter Smiley, chief of operations at Northern Virginia Project Giveback. “We also partner with an organization that’s in D.C., Project Giveback. Between our chapter and theirs, we are going to feed over 1,500 families. We have over 300-plus volunteers that are going to help us pack and deliver to those families.”
Those volunteers come from near and far, some right in the Arlington-Alexandria area, others from Fredericksburg and as far as Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Tables were aligned in rows in the facility’s gymnasium with volunteers on either side filling boxes with food as they moved down the line.
“My role in the whole line is to try to keep it organized,” said first-time participant Karen Shelton-Waters.
Phyllis Wright was also volunteering for the first time on the other side of the room.
“I am stacking apples into a plastic bag, and I have a counterpart who’s opened up the bag as she’s going to fill up the boxes as they come down the line,” she said.
The food comes from the SHARE food network and includes turkeys, whole chickens, sweet potatoes and other staples of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
This is the seventh year Project Giveback has operated in Northern Virginia, a relative newcomer compared with D.C.’s chapter, which has served those in need for more than two decades.
Smiley and D.C.’s chapter organizer, Ransom Miller, actually know each other well: They went to high school in Oklahoma together, Smiley said.
“There is a vision of feeding families in need using communities and corporations to give back to the communities in which they work and live,” he said.