By Leah Fallon
What started as a Loudoun couple’s effort to feed a few thousand people overseas is quickly becoming a nationwide movement, with churches and nonprofits joining forces to provide food for children in their own communities.
An army of volunteers will spend two hours in two Loudoun locations on two days packaging a total of 30,000 meals for area families in need as part of Generosity Feeds. The first begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at Douglass Community Center in Leesburg. The second begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 6, at Dominion High School in Sterling.
According to Generosity Feeds, 12,500 children in Loudoun County are “food insecure.” That’s the number of students who, under federal guidelines, qualify for free or reduced-price meals at their schools.
The people behind Generosity Feeds want to make a change in the lives of those children. They want to do something that shows that every member of the community is valued and cared for.
“Nothing runs on empty. Not our cell phone, cars, economy, or a child. A child’s body cannot survive on empty. For a child to thrive, it begins with food,” Ron Klabunde said.
He and his wife Stefani Klabunde began Generosity Feeds in 2011. The idea for the program sparked while at an event at Dominion High School. Through their nonprofit Replenish Community Foundation, the Klabundes helped package 40,000 meals to be sent overseas to help hungry children in impoverished countries.
Proud of the 450 volunteers who showed up, the couple celebrated the success that day. Yet, Ron Klabunde remembers feeling deflated after a man at the event asked what he was doing to feed the thousands of children who struggle with hunger here in Loudoun. That question changed the Klabundes’ course of action.
Almost immediately, they began working to organize Generosity Feeds, and six months later they hosted an event with 700 volunteers packaging 30,000 meals to be distributed locally.
The success of the program prompted calls from others wanting to hold Generosity Feeds events. The program is now being held throughout the country, led by churches, businesses and organizations in 14 states.
The Oct. 30 Generosity Feeds event in Leesburg is put on by Leesburg Junction, a work space and event venue in downtown, Sterling-based, nonprofit Replenish Community Foundation and Headway Church, which meets in the Leesburg Junction space.
Drew Clyde, pastor of Headway Church and organizer of Generosity Feeds Leesburg said, “As part of the community we are called and responsible for caring for each other.”
He is looking forward to getting the community together to create awareness and to connect with other nonprofit organizations in the county. Mobile Hope, Loudoun Hunger Relief and Back Pack Coalition are joining the effort by distributing the packaged food to their clients.
Clyde also connected with corporate sponsors who want to make a positive social impact on the community. The main corporate sponsors that will cover the cost of the 13,000 meals are Toth Financial, Volkwagen Group of America, Abbey Design Center, Cochran Family Dental, John Marshall Bank and Madigan Construction.
Generosity Feeds is also getting help promoting its campaign from actor Sean O’Donnell, who is flying in from Los Angeles to help out at the Leesburg event. The 21-year-old actor and model is best known for his roles in Sickhouse and Mamaboy.
His father leads Leesburg Junction and is a member of Headway Church. After visiting his father in Leesburg and attending Headway Church, O’Donnell was inspired by the church’s sincere desire to serve. “They foster and perpetuate a community that genuinely wants to help,” he said.
O’Donnell has done his share of charity work in New York City through food drives and packing bags to feed the homeless, and wants to do what he can with Generosity Feeds to continue to spread the wood about childhood hunger.
“It’s shameful that one in five children are hungry,” he said. “The end game is to pick this local event and make it nationwide, and to make some noise to get people focused on this important national issue.”
To package meals at one of the two Loudoun Generosity Feeds events, register at generosityfeeds.org. Volunteers who come to the Oct. 30 event in a costume will receive a treat. Those who can’t volunteer are encouraged to donate; $30 will provide meals for 30 children.