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Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.   As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps, Carrie and I just participated in the national day of service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers Grocery Store in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families for Reston Interfaith.  Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.   After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points.  Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area non-profits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.   To restock Reston Interfaith’s emergency food pantry, Reston Interfaith and Fastran hold a yearly Stuff the Bus event at the Shopper’s Grocery Store in Herndon to collect donations. Here is more information about Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2013/stuff-the-bus-2013.htm

From 9:00 AM-4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON Literacy handed out fliers about the Food Drive to shoppers as they entered the grocery store.  The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store.  There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations.  We spent the day handing out fliers and helping to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.

Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience.  First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out.  There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate!   Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families.  One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need.  At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.

Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member 12-13

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