Volunteers in Loudoun County have recently collected enough food to provide more than 18,000 meals for local families in need.
This year marked the 20th anniversary for Make a Difference Day, the nation's largest day of community service through the Hands on Network and Points of Light Institute.
This year, the annual one-day event was held on Oct. 23.
Localities across the nation created a number of service projects for their local communities. Volunteer Loudoun, which provides information, referral, training, and recognition of volunteer activities in Loudoun County, coordinated local projects.
Volunteer Loudoun has participated in the event for seven years.
Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Rose said this year the organization partnered with sixty eight schools, in the local area, to hold a food drive for Loudoun Interfaith Relief, the largest food pantry in Loudoun County, established in 1991.
"We were fortunate enough to actually have a board member that is an employee of the school system," Rose said. "So we were able to get in and explain what we were doing and how to get kids involved and teach the value of giving."
Rose said that all of the participating schools were asked to create a non-perishable food drive two weeks leading up to Make a Difference Day. About 75 percent of what was collected this year was raised by the schools, she said.
According to Bonnie Inman, executive director of Loudoun Interfaith Relief, a total of 20,529 pounds of food was raised and donated to the pantry.
"It was huge," Inman said. "The program is so helpful to us. The teams that help volunteer are just commendable and everything they do and we're just very thankful for what they did and appreciative. It's going to be a big help."
One of the schools that participated was Seldens Landing Elementary School in Leesburg, which organizer Sue Davis saidwas honored to be a part of the event.
"Volunteer Loudoun had given us some boxes with some signs that I put outside of the office and then children brought in food for several weeks before the collection day," Davis said.
Davis said that about five boxes were filled by Seldens Elementary by the time Loudoun Interfaith picked everything up.
"That same evening we had an event at the school where we collected more food and a parent volunteer dropped it off that Saturday," Davis said. "The students really liked being part of that and I think the parents enjoyed giving to the community too."
Rose said she is happy with the turnout of this year's food drive and looks forward to participating in Make a Difference Day next year.
"It's just become this huge event that everyone looks forward too," Rose said. "It's a definite need and it's definitely something that we have figured out that we're able to help with.
To learn more about Make a Difference Day visit www.handsonnetwork.org.