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Making a difference

Ashby Ponds volunteers support local food bank

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January 10th, 2017
Rallying together as a community, Ashby Ponds recently collected 710 pounds of much-needed goods and $1,160 in support of Loudoun Hunger Relief.

Rallying together as a community, Ashby Ponds recently collected 710 pounds of much-needed goods and $1,160 in support of Loudoun Hunger Relief.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than one in seven American households—49 million individuals, including 12 million children—struggle to have enough to eat. Community members at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., in partnership with Loudoun Hunger Relief, the largest food pantry in Loudoun County, commit themselves to making a change to these sobering statistics.

Last fall, Ashby Ponds’ Progressives group, made up of almost 100 residents involved in issues of national and local interest, sought to address the topic of hunger in the local community.

“We knew that here in Loudoun County, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, some of our fellow citizens are struggling, and a surprisingly large number even go hungry,” says Mary Tondreau, who lives at Ashby Ponds. 

Actions speak loudest

To better understand the plight of those in need, the Progressives invited Jennifer Montgomery, executive director of Loudoun Hunger Relief, to talk with the group. 

During the discussion, Montgomery explained that nearly half of the people Loudoun Hunger Relief supports are children. 

She also addressed the plight of older citizens living on fixed incomes. Rising prescription costs often force them to choose between paying for health care or buying food. 

“Her presentation definitely spurred us into action,” says Mary. “We asked what we could do to help, and she suggested that aside from money, there was a real need for items often forgotten such as paper products, personal hygiene items, laundry soap, and animal food. 

Immediately, members of the Progressives put together a committee to coordinate the collection of the most needed items.

“We sent request letters to other Ashby Ponds clubs and groups asking if they would cosponsor a drive for Loudoun Hunger Relief,” says Mary. “Everyone agreed that the drive was a great idea and said, ‘Count on us,’ and ‘What can we do?’”

The committee then sent out flyers to all members of the Ashby Ponds community announcing the collection drive. The volunteers set up collection tables in the community’s two clubhouses over the course of two evenings. 

“The community’s reaction was amazing,” says resident Greg Johnson. “Thanks to everyone’s support, we collected 710 pounds of product and $1,160 in cash and checks.”

Donated items included those identified by Loudoun Hunger Relief as the most needed, including diapers, baby wipes, soap, and shampoo.

Throughout the collection, the Ashby Ponds volunteers remained in constant contact with Loudoun Hunger Relief.

“As soon as our collection drive was complete, they sent a van to pick up our donations,” says Mary. “I’m pleased to report that we filled the entire van.”

Looking forward

The support provided by the Ashby Ponds volunteers is integral to the work of Loudoun Hunger Relief. To date, the organization has distributed 1.2 million pounds of food and more than 1 million meals to those most in need in the county.

“The Progressives look forward to holding a second collection in April or May,” says Mary. “We all see how a project like this is a very worthwhile way to address an urgent need and to contribute to the local community outside the gates of Ashby Ponds. I am thrilled to be a part of such a generous community that is excited to reach out and help others in need.”

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