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Snowpocalypse: More than an Inconvenience

February 9, 2010

Author: Terri Lee Freeman

Like me, you may be the kind of person who rushes out to the grocery store at the first mention of snow (let alone 20 to 30 inches), stockpiling milk, eggs, bread and hot chocolate mix. If you trust Punxsutawney Phil, we have at least five more weeks of this.

But for every one of us in line at the grocery store, there’s a mom trudging through the snow to a food bank. For each of us who moves to a hotel or friends’ house because we’ve lost power, there’s a family that can’t pay its utilities bills. We checked in Monday with several local nonprofits that provide food, shelter and clothing to find out how the neediest in our region are faring during one of the snowiest months on record.

Judith Dittman, who is the director of Alternative House, reported that her organization’s teen drop-in center in the Culmore neighborhood of Fairfax County was closed earlier this week. The center typically provides an afternoon snack and dinner for teenagers who may also receive a subsidized breakfast and lunch at school. In other words, these are kids who count on their school and Alterative House for meals. On a day when both are closed, “snow day” takes on a new meaning: hunger.

When we caught up with Mary Anne Lecos of Annandale Christian Community for Action (ACCA) she told us volunteers who typically drop off donated furniture to families moving out of shelters into housing had understandably stopped delivering during the snow storm, leaving families without beds, cribs, lamps, tables, chairs or sofas.

Bread for the City’s Tracy Knight explained that, at times like this, public transportation closures are a major issue for people without a car, let alone people with disabilities who were literally stranded when Metro Access shut down for a couple days. The snow, she said, takes a difficult situation and makes it worse. It all comes down to resources. “These are not people who can simply put another log on the fire,” she told us.

Those of us with resources must provide that log for every person who needs it. All year long—but especially in the harsh winter months—we must come together to ensure that every member of our community is safe, warm, fed and cared for. This has been the toughest year in recent memory. Through The Community Foundation’s Neighbors in Need Fund, we can keep the fire burning for everyone.

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