Reston, VA

In the 10 years he has spent working on Reston non-profit Cornerstones’ annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, Nate King has never seen a year like this.

King, the donations and drives coordinator for Cornerstones, said the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created an increase in demand for food for families in need — one that he hasn’t seen in the past decade of working for the non-profit.

“The downturn in the economy has increased the number of families coming in for assistance to the emergency food pantry,” King said.
Due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, King said he anticipates about a 25 % increase in the number of families who will be receiving donations from stones during their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Typically, Cornerstones provides food for between 700 to 750 families in Fairfax County just before Thanksgiving, but this holiday season King anticipates that number to jump to about 1,050 families as more families have gone to the Cornerstones requesting help.

“This far out-stripes the numbers we have seen in the past years,” King said.

With no end of the pandemic in sight, Cornerstone’s Food Drive will look a little different this year. King said Cornerstones will extend the Thanksgiving Food Drive to five days to give more time for those who wish to donate, to avoid crowding.

For the families receiving food, Cornerstones is combining their Thanksgiving Food Drive with their annual Gift for Kids Drive, which provides underprivileged kids with presents for the holidays. But this year, to cut down on crowding during the pandemic, Cornerstones is combining the events, giving families gift cards, instead of wrapped presents, along with a box of Thanksgiving food items.

King said Cornerstones will implement some social distancing measures this year by cutting down on the number of volunteers who will work at one time, requiring volunteers to wear masks and to undergo temperature checks and to do much of their work organizing food boxes outside.

This year, families will receive their food and gifts through a makeshift drive-through, where volunteers will drop the items off in cars, instead of having families go inside to collect them.

Food collection for the Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive will take place on November 16 to 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston.

Those interested in donating to Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive can find more information online.

Photo courtesy Cornerstones

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