Jennifer Montgomery stepped out of Loudoun Interfaith Relief into the bright afternoon sun Saturday. She looked down a long line of people that stretched toward the neighboring office space.
“Welcome. We’re glad you’re here,” Montgomery, executive director of the food pantry, shouted. “I want everyone to know there’s more than enough for everyone because our community has been so generous.”
The moms, dads, kids and others were visibly grateful, Montgomery said. They clapped and cheered, before waiting patiently for volunteers to hand them bags brimming with groceries.
By the end of today, Loudoun Interfaith will have given more than 1,000 families all the fixings for Thanksgiving meals, plus grocery store gift cards. The organization received enough donations this year that Montgomery expects to hand out another 700 bags of groceries for home-cooked meals over the next few weeks.
That’s a stark contrast with last year when Montgomery was asking everybody she could think of for donations.
“This year, I haven’t had to do any of that,” she said. “The outpouring of support from the community has been incredible. We truly have been in awe over it.”
In the last month, the nonprofit received a slew of offerings from people who wanted to volunteer. There isn’t much room in the food pantry for many bodies, Montgomery thought. But instead of turning the help away, she gave the volunteers a shopping list.
“We said, ‘you go do the shopping, fill the bags and bring them to us.’ Companies, faith groups, schools and individual families jumped on it,” she said.
About 250 families who stopped in at the food pantry in Leesburg are first-time clients. Montgomery said making that first connection is important. Now, they’ll know where they can go when they need extra help.
Montgomery reminds those who have been so generous to continue their giving beyond the holidays. The organization typically distributes more than 1.2 million pounds of food a year, and serves more than 70 families per day.
But she has no doubt people will continue to respond to requests for donations.
“Loudoun really is a generous community,” she said. “When you ask, you receive here. It just makes me proud to live here.”
See a list of needed donations at interfaithrelief.org.