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Habitat ReStore Hosting Christmas in July Drive-Thru Food Drive to Meet Dire Community Need

The cupboards need restocking in food pantries at Grove Christian Outreach Center and Williamsburg House of Mercy, and it couldn’t come at a worse time. Need is up while donations are down.

Both nonprofits are asking for community support to “Sleigh Hunger” at Christmas in July, a drive-thru food drive that will be held at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Williamsburg on Wednesday, July 20.

Nonperishable items (see list below) can be donated between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. that day at the ReStore on 1303 Jamestown Road.

“Hunger and the need for food know no season,” said Katie Patrick, Executive Director of Grove Christian Outreach Center, which strives to keep its food pantry stocked to help individuals and families in James City County. “In the past, food pantries would see some regular donors making regular trips with a bag or two of groceries that, collectively, had a tremendous impact. Fuel costs are keeping people closer to home and reducing the amount of ‘extra’ that people are able to do.”

Donated food pounds have declined 32% at Grove Christian Outreach Center alone, while need has superseded even the height of the pandemic in 2020. Cash contributions from individual giving are down $50,000 from the same time last year.

“Preventing food insecurity relates directly to our mission of building homes, communities and hope,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg. “We are proud to work together with both nonprofits to address hunger, one of the chief barriers that keeps families from achieving self-reliance.”

Not everyone who needs food is homeless or poverty-stricken, either, Patrick said, as soaring prices and unprecedented fuel costs have forced many households to feel the squeeze for the first time.

“There are many reasons why a household may visit a food pantry,” Patrick said. “It can be because there isn’t enough income to meet the nutrition needs of all members of the household or not enough fuel to get to the nearest grocery store.”

In the last year, Grove Christian Outreach Center served 319 households (1,102 people) 3,821 times with its food pantry, a number that included 62 new families.

Williamsburg House of Mercy is facing a similar plight in struggling to keep its food pantry stocked. The nonprofit provides essential services, including food security and housing to those in need.

The drive-thru food pantry at House of Mercy served 208 families in a single day one week this summer. More than 65 requests for housing came in during June alone.

“We have witnessed the impact of a compassionate community throughout the pandemic; there was no other way to meet such widespread requests for help,” said Shannon Woloszynowski, Executive Director of Williamsburg House of Mercy. “We know that the families of Williamsburg will continue to respond in generosity to help their neighbors in need.”

Both organizations are asking for the following items to be donated:

  • Hot and cold cereal
  • Rice
  • Canned or mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Pasta
  • Canned or cups of fruit
  • Cans of tuna, chicken, protein
  • Juice
  • Canned corn
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Chunky soups
  • Granola bars, crackers
  • Baby food
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Mac and cheese
  • Ramen
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