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Crossroads-Connection is keeping hunger at bay so local students can thrive

“In the Midst of Plenty” was written by author and journalist Ben Bagdikin almost 50 years ago about poverty in America. The subject is still true today. Even in the affluent Haymarket-Gainesville areas,  poverty and hunger still exist in the midst of plenty.

David and Joan Gifford, along with two teams of volunteers, formed Crossroads-Connection to assist with poverty in their own backyards.

In 2010, the Giffords learned numerous students at Mountain View ES, Tyler ES, Bull Run Middle and PACE West schools needed food over the weekend because they weren’t in school to receive breakfast and lunch.

David said, “Each school is challenged to educate a significant number of children who arrive Monday mornings hungry for food. Some have not been fed most of the weekend. Imagine trying to teach a child who’s hungry.”

They spoke to different staff members at the schools and determined with them the number of students at each school who were in need of food. Crossroads-Connection does not know the students’ names, only the number from each school.

In 2013, this Christian community service group received a charter from Heritage Hunt. Although there are many volunteers who live in Heritage Hunt, there are also many who are from Dominion Valley and Piedmont, as well as other neighborhoods.

Joan organizes the volunteers as they shop once every two months, mainly at Costco, for items needed to fill the weekend bags for the children.

The food is delivered to the Giffords’ home; they have graciously given up their basement for this endeavor.  The last Monday of each month, the teams get together and have an impressive assembly line set up to fill the bags.

David said, “Each sack contains non-perishable food including milk, cereal, juice, dinners, snacks and desserts, all carefully chosen to provide maximum nutrition at a minimal expense. Every Friday afternoon, before the children leave for home, the counselors distribute the food.”

This year, Crossroads-Connection is helping 40 children, six from Mt. View, 14 from PACE, 12 from Tyler and eight from Bull Run Middle.

The cost to feed the children during the school year is $250 per child, which translates to $10,000 a year. The group is in need of donations to help fund the food for the students.

They deeply appreciative the support they have received in the past from the Heritage Hunt Women’s Club, Heritage Hunt Technology Users Club, Regency Women’s Club, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Ecumenical Community of Arlington, various neighborhood Bible groups, as well as individuals.

“Every nickel we get goes to the food for the students. We would love to be able to help even more students, so any donations will be helpful,” said David.

Julie Chamberlain, counselor at Tyler ES, shared, “Crossroads-Connection is an amazing organization.  Dave, his wife, and several other volunteers provide weekend snack bags for our families in need. It is a lifesaver for many of our students who, otherwise, may not have sufficient breakfasts and snacks on the weekend. Volunteers work tirelessly with Dave and his wife to purchase the goods, stuff the bags and deliver them to several area schools. One of our school families just asked if they could help the volunteers as well. What a generous undertaking that means the world to our families.”

Jane Prince, counselor at Bull Run Middle School, said, “This neighborhood [group] should be praised for the good that they do. Hopefully, this will lead to more resources for funding or food donations for them.”

Susan Hawkins, staff member at PACE, shared, “We are so fortunate to have another local community group which helps support our school community. Crossroads-Connection has been an outstanding group to work with. They give to our students with no expectation. That is a true gift.”

Donna Cole, counselor at Mt. View, summed up the feelings of all, “On behalf of the staff and families of Mountain View Elementary School, we are more grateful than words could ever express for the extraordinary support we have had from Crossroads-Connection for numerous years.  Under the leadership of Dave Gifford, his wife and numerous members of Crossroads-Connection, volunteers work many hours each month to provide healthy snacks for families at Mountain View School in need every single weekend during the school year. The Mt. View families remain anonymous but have been so thankful for this amazing help that ensures their children have healthy snacks and food to supplement over the weekend.

“The students receiving the snacks get so excited to take them home. The snacks go to families in great need. Dave and his living angels plan for the needs, coordinate people to purchase the food, sort it into bags, and deliver it. Dave Gifford even communicates with me regularly to make sure all needs are being met.  We know this project has made a most positive difference to the well-being of students and, therefore, their learning. We are forever thankful to Dave, his wife and all of those who share their valuable time and hard work on a regular basis to help our families for their most basic need.”

Tax deductible donations can be made by contacting David Gifford at 703-743-2109 or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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