Amid widespread unemployment, the need for help is skyrocketing along the Route 1 corridor in Southeast Fairfax County. The non-profit organization United Community is trying desperately to keep pace with the need through its food distribution program.
We’re just trying to survive and live. The last thing we need to be trying to figure out is how to feed our children in the midst of trying to keep ourselves and our communities healthy,” neighborhood activist Yolonda Earl-Thompson told ABC7’s Jay Korff.
In April of 2019 United Community served 543 people. In April 2020 that number jumped to 1140, a 110-percent increase. Many clients, having been laid off from hotels, restaurants or other service industry jobs, are needing help for the first time. “Food insecurity, a basic need, is immense in the Richmond Highway corridor. They’re your neighbors. They need our help. They are hungry,” United Community Executive Director Alison DeCourcey told ABC7 WJLA.
Dominion Energy’s recent donation of $15,000 to United Community has been used to purchase large amounts of food. A small portion was used to buy 8,000 pounds of rice in 50-pound bags. The rice needs to be packed into small, two-pound bags for their clients.
To help meet that challenge, Dominion Energy’s Northern Virginia media manager Peggy Fox organized a group of college students to volunteer on May 22nd. They sorted and bagged ten 50-pound bags in three hours. All while wearing gloves, masks and social distancing.
Peggy Fox highlighted the volunteer event in a live Facebook post trying to encourage others to set up their own volunteer events.
“This is a really big time of need and a lot of people are forgetting about the need to volunteer and help out. So, we’re just doing what we can,” said Leah Horan, 19, of McLean, Virginia.
The grants from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation are part of $45,000 in funding given to six non-profit organizations in Northern Virginia: United Community, Wesley Housing, Arlington Food Assistance, Arlington Free Clinic, Pathway Homes and Northern Virginia Veterans Association.
"We are part of this community and believe it’s our responsibility to help our neighbors and customers during this difficult time,” said Scott Price, Dominion Energy Regional Policy Director.The grants from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to Northern Virginia organizations are among 66 grants totaling more than $1 million in 11 states and D.C. to support COVID 19 relief efforts.