Amazon volunteers joined Food For Neighbors in the fight against teen food insecurity on Saturday, Sept. 9. Working side-by-side with other community members at Arlington Career Center, Herndon Middle School, and Whitman Middle School, Amazon helped sort and deliver nearly 8,000 pounds of food and toiletries donated by more than 570 households for local secondary schools.
In total, eight hundred volunteers, across nine active sorting sites, helped process 23,000 pounds of donations Food For Neighbors collected that Saturday morning from 1,700 Northern Virginia households. The effort will help over 5,800 students in 42 secondary schools in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
Amazon’s hands-on support underscores a $155,000 donation from Amazon Fresh last Fall, and the volunteer spirit demonstrates the company’s continued dedication to lifting up the communities where its employees work and live.
Amazon participated in Food For Neighbors’ Red Bag Program kickoff event during its Global Month of Volunteering, an initiative where Amazon employees in the DMV and across the world come together to volunteer and engage even further with their communities for causes they’re passionate about.
“We’re committed to supporting the immediate needs of students and their families – these often include providing food, shelter, clothing, and more. Thanks to community partnerships like this, we’re able to provide students the support they need to keep learning,” said Melissa Robinson, principal program manager of Volunteering at Amazon.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate Amazon as a Food For Neighbors Community Champion and sponsor of our first Red Bag food and toiletry collection event of the new school year,” shared Karen Joseph, Founder and Executive Director of Food For Neighbors. “Amazon’s philanthropic partnership and $155,000 donation through Amazon Fresh helped us quickly expand our services into Arlington Public Schools last school year, where we helped approximately 970 hungry students, many of whom received support weekly.”
The Red Bag Events are the heart of Food For Neighbors. They mobilize individuals to shop for nonperishable food and essential toiletries, which they place in a red bag and leave on their doorsteps for collection. Volunteers, organized by neighborhoods, pick up the donations and bring them to one of nine central locations, where volunteers sort and then deliver needed food and toiletries to school pantries. School social workers, counselors, and family liaisons identify students in need and distribute food and toiletries to them. Complementing programs provide food pantry shelving and storage for schools as well as grocery store gift cards for the most vulnerable students.
Although Food For Neighbors welcomes additional Red Bag donors and volunteers as it continues to meet the need in the schools it is currently serving, and to say “yes” to new schools requesting support. New in September is Leesburg’s Belmont Ridge Middle School, which brings the total number of partnering schools to 42.
Also key are the financial donations from individuals, foundations, businesses, and other organizations, which help keep the Red Bag and Grocery Gift Card programs running.
Hunger is closer than you think. To learn more about becoming involved as a Red Bag donor, volunteer, monthly Hunger Hero, or community partner, visit https://www.foodforneighbors.org/get-involved/ or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.