With Christmas quickly approaching, food donations are ramping up all around the county. Most towns are giving back by setting up donation drop-off points and partnering with nonprofits to help the less fortunate. While the Town of Lovettsville is following the trend this season, it also puts a great deal of emphasis on food donations all year long.
In addition to offering a permanent drop-off location of food donations in its town office, Lovettsville also welcomes nonprofits at most of its town events to collect food donations.
“We’re usually just the clearing house,” said Mayor Bob Zoldos. “All of our events have some sort of charity aspect to them.”
To help spread the word, Zoldos makes it a point to mention the food bank and other donation opportunities in his Friday emails, which have about 1,500 subscribers.
“I try to highlight what I think is most important,” he said. “I like to think that they’re helpful.”
According to Town Clerk Harriet West, the food bank drop-off in the town office has been in place for as long as she can remember.
“We get a lot of donations,” West said. “It does seem to be very successful out here.”
Types of food the town collects include canned meat, fruit and vegetables, coffee, pancake mix, boxed juice, and dry dog and cat food. It also accepts toiletries and “Box Tops for Education.”
Once collected, volunteers from the Lions Club make a weekly pick up to deliver the food and toiletries to New Jerusalem Lutheran Church’s Western Loudoun Food Pantry. From there, the food is distributed to families in need. Toni Chancellor-Adams, one of the food pantry coordinators, said about 35 families have been served so far this year.
“There’s an ongoing need [for food donations],” she said. “Not just during the holidays.”
While the town office food bank is available to the public during the week, the town realizes that area residents might not get the chance to stop by too often. Zoldos said this is a good reason to advertise and accept food donations at town events. “It reaches a group that isn’t just town citizens,” he said.
Last Saturday, the fire department hosted a breakfast with Santa that collected canned and nonperishable food donations. According to Lovettsville Volunteer Fire Chief Robert Berka, all food donations were delivered to the food pantry.
Berka said the department also sets up a food donation box in its bingo hall for people to make drop offs each Saturday night. “We do heavily support the food donations throughout the year,” he said.
Just a week before the breakfast with Santa, the town’s Wintertainment Fest also hosted the Lovettsville Elementary School’s first ever Soup and Sandwich Food Drive, which collected all kinds of different food for families in need. According to Michelle Lautenschlager, the school’s parent liaison, nearly 300 pounds of food was collected and donated.
“Definitely this community rallies around events like that,” Lautenschlager said. “Support is just always overwhelming.”
In November, the town welcomed and helped publicize the annual Scouting for Food Drive. Girl Scout Liaison Melani Carty said Lovettsville Boy and Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venture Scouts and American Heritage Girls collected more than 4,000 pounds of food for the food pantry—about 1,000 more than last year’s drive. “We bring in enough food to last them up to six months,” she said.
The next town event to bring in a large amount of food donations should be the annual Berserkle on the Squirkle 5K Race on Dec. 31. Zoldos said the town is tentatively planning to replace the admission fee with a request for food donations.
“Instead of charging 10 bucks … you have to bring something for the food pantry for your admission,” he said. “It will bring in some food for the pantry.”
Until then, residents may deliver food donations to the town hall Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or before town meetings.