This past weekend, the Glebe community held their 5th annual “Starting the Year Off Doing Good” fundraiser collecting 2,662 lbs of food. The Glebe Elementary PTA Community Service Committee organized a school-wide fundraiser supporting Food for Others, a non-profit food distribution network supporting food insecure communities in Northern Virginia.
“We are supporting their Power Pack program, which provides students in need with food over the weekend to bridge the gap between their access to free and reduced breakfasts and lunches at school,” said organizer and Glebe parent Shelly Stoneman. “A Power Pack is a Ziploc bag containing two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, two snacks, and two drinks for these students to take home over the weekend and remove the stress of worrying about access to nutrition so that they may instead focus on learning.”
This year, the Glebe community packed a total of 1,044 Power Packs which is an increase of 60% more than the 650 packed last year. Nearly 100 families either donated items or volunteered to pack the food over the weekend. All together, the Glebe community collected 1,000 lbs more of food than last year.
Stoneman and her husband Jason originally started the fundraiser in their home nearly five years ago.”We started the fundraiser as a way to involve our young children in giving back to the community,” said Stoneman. But as they looked for volunteer opportunities for their family, the Stonemans realized that nearly all charities restricted the participation of children until they were about 12 years old. “Since our kids were four and almost two at the time, we wanted to design a charity event that small children can participate in with their parents and which had a tangible result—particularly one
that helped kids.”
The Stonemans began researching various home-based fundraisers for charity—and after rejecting all of the messy ideas, they found the Power Pack
program at Food for Others. “We took their description of it and adapted it to our situation by having participants purchase items off of an Amazon Wish List and sending the donation items to our home, where we keep an inventory tally of all of the items needed to construct a Power Pack to make sure that we have the right amounts of all items before the packing event.”
After doing the fundraiser in their home for three years, the Stonemans pitched it to the Glebe Elementary PTA Community Service Committee and they decided to adopt it as a PTA-sponsored, school-wide charity event. Glebe has held the event the last two years which has allowed the program to grow. “The Glebe community is eager to keep it as a PTA fundraiser for the foreseeable future,” said Stoneman.
A station was added this year where students could make “Nice Notes,” and anonymous note written to the recipient of the Power Pack telling them something nice. The notes included messages such as “You’re awesome!” or “Enjoy the food and your weekend!” or “We care about you!” “We weren’t sure how this station was going to go over this year with the Glebe kids who volunteered, but it really took off and the kids loved writing messages to other kids, so we will be ramping that part up even more next year,” Stoneman noted.
Stoneman said of their goal this exceeding their goal of 650 packs from last year, “We never dreamed that we would exceed 1,000 this year, but we were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Glebe Community turning out in force to support donations throughout the holidays and in the first few weeks of the year.”