Sterling Marchand, Litigation Senior Associate in the Washington, DC office, and his family, started what they thought would be a small local community food drive as a way to help people particularly impacted by the pandemic.
In the past two months, it has grown beyond a plastic box and some generous neighbors in his Northern Virginia neighborhood to provide thousands of pounds of food to area food banks and homeless shelters for families in need of food and supplemental groceries.
Now becoming a non-profit of its own, the “Be the Good Project” (as dubbed by his four children) is bringing people together to provide support for others in their own neighborhoods and beyond who need their help the most.
Q. How did this project come about?
A: At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife and I started talking about the crisis and food insecurity.
We saw there was an increased need now during this time, combined with a decrease in donations as people are out of work or otherwise may feel food insecure. A lot of families rely on government assistance for food anyway, with school lunches for example. With schools closed and kids being home, the pressure on families to provide food is increased.
It’s always been a passion of ours to give back to our community. We are active through our church and felt called to do something more. We started emailing our local friends and family in early June to bring over canned and dry food.
Q: What was the community reaction?
A: Overwhelming – in an incredibly positive way.
After six weeks, we were able to donate nearly 3,000 pounds of food and water to two local organizations: the United Community Food Bank in Alexandria, Virginia and Martha’s Table, a Washington, DC non-profit that works to expand access to healthy foods for people who are experiencing hunger. We received monetary donations to buy more food in bulk so we could meet the specific needs of local food pantries, and we’re on track to deliver 3,400 sandwiches donated by friends and family in July and August!
We are AMAZED by everyone’s generosity and commitment to helping their community!
Q: Your kids are very involved in this project. How has it impacted them?
A: Our goal had always been to support local families during this crisis and teach our four young children they’re never too young to help others. And this provides an arena for our kids to see how to make a difference.
The kids are also very involved in the day-to-day of the project. Not only did the they come up with the name “Be the Good”, but they also write handwritten thank you cards to everyone who donates.
Q: Sign me up! How can I contribute and where can I learn more?
A: There are several ways to help. If you live in Northern Virginia, you’re welcome to drop food at our home. You can also mail donations or buy products online (from Costco or another grocery website) and have them sent to us. Financial donations are always welcome and 100% of which goes to purchasing exactly what the organizations need on a week-to-week basis.
We’ve also had some really creative support – a friend works for Boylan Bottling Company and donated 12 cases of seltzer water and energy bars, and friends started small drives with their scout troops and added us to their birthday car parades.
Supporters can also check out our Facebook and Instagram pages. My wife is an artist and is making family portrait “doodles” for donations on her Instagram page @rooscribbles. All of the proceeds from those portraits go to buy more food in bulk.
Q: Are you looking to keep this going beyond the summer?
A: Unfortunately, the need for food continues to grow, so our small food drive is going to stay open for the foreseeable future as we look for small ways to help. The reaction has been so positive and amazing that we are now setting this up as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We are excited to look for more ways to connect with friends and family who want to lend a hand to help others.
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