Across the country, families and friends will join each other this Thursday to offer thanks for all we are blessed with. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to represent one of the smartest, most diverse constituencies in Congress the past 24 years. One thing that has constantly set Northern Virginia apart and made this one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family is our commitment to public and civil service in the name of others.
Around Northern Virginia volunteers help by donating their time and basic family essentials to those in need. We are one of the richest countries in the world, but it is important to recognize that even here, families, seniors, children, and veterans go to bed hungry, cold, and without basic medical care. Even in Virginia, where we have weathered downturns in the economy much better than our neighbors, nearly 400,000 go without adequate medical care, victims of a polarized General Assembly that has hamstrung efforts to expand access to Medicare for their constituents who need it most.
While it is up to Republicans in Richmond to do what is right by their constituencies and secure access to essential health benefits that many of them need, Northern Virginia residents can do their part to help their neighbors by volunteering. It’s up to us to live up to this legacy of civic and public engagement by taking time from our busy schedules to give back, especially this holiday season, when we have so much to be grateful for.
Every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Columbia Baptist Church the Spend Yourself Food Pantry distributes food to thousands of needy families. Each year, they distribute over 100,000 pounds of donated food, from family essentials like rice and butter to baby formula and milk, to those in our community most in need. This operation relies on the generosity of nearly 600 volunteers to do its mission and distribute over 21,000 bags of food each year. Stop by 3245 Glen Carlyn Road this Saturday morning from 9:30 to noon to join the help or donate some holiday essentials like cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes to their facility at 103 Columbia Street.
I helped kick off Turkey Week at the Arlington Food Assistance Center last week with Chef David Guas from the Bayou Bakery, a staple of Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. We spent several hours with AFAC staff and volunteers handing out turkeys and other Thanksgiving table basics to hundreds of families as just a small part of an operation that’s been distributing groceries free of charge to those in need for over 20 years. AFAC welcomes individuals, families, and groups to help with bagging and distributing food from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. Schedule a volunteer appointment today at www.afac.org/volunteer. Every hour you give can make the difference between a family with food on their table to celebrate the holiday, like many of us, or going hungry this holiday season
It has been a privilege to represent this community in Congress for over two decades, one I am tremendously thankful for. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones this year and please try to give some time and charity for those in our community in need.