Feeling powerless during coronavirus pandemic? Volunteering is ‘something you can do to fight back’

Volunteers serve meals to the homeless at the New York Ave. Presbyterian Church in D.C. (Courtesy David Snyder)

Volunteers based at Abraham Lincoln’s former church in D.C. said they’re extending basic comfort to neighbors in need during the coronavirus crisis.

That’s why they gather every weekday at noon to feed members of the homeless community.

The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and the neighborhood’s Business Improvement District feed between 100 and 150 people lunch on weekdays and breakfast on Sundays.

Celebrity chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen donates 100 meals that are served by volunteers and church members who come from D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

“Whatever you give, you get a lot more back,” David Snyder of Falls Church said of volunteering during the crisis.

“Maybe you can’t change everything. Maybe you can’t fight the disease on your own, but this is something you can do to fight back,” Snyder said.

Reaching out to help those most in need during these circumstances is “worth a certain amount of risk,” Snyder said.

AUDIO: Snyder discusses the church’s history of service

November 30, 2023 | (Dan Friedell)

Safety protocols during food distribution include volunteers wearing some protective equipment and guests being given the opportunity to wash up inside the church, get hand sanitizer and go through the line to collect packaged meals while following social distancing guidance.

Snyder said the people who come to receive meals are incredibly civil and grateful.

“They take to it, just the way anyone else would. They highly respect the rules and are very appreciative for what you do,” Snyder said. “It’s probably the most rewarding activity that you can possibly engage in.”

Every Sunday, Snyder and other volunteers pick up and bring to the church for distribution donated food items from places such as Einstein Bros. Bagels in Falls Church and Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe in Arlington.

On weekdays, volunteers are still needed to help the effort from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can sign up to help online.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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