Community Members to Fight Local Hunger at Unique Celebration and Public Art Event
Community members of all ages are preparing to gather to fight hunger and need in the Fairfax County area at Fairfax-based charity Our Daily Bread’s (ODB) 2nd annual Complete the Circle FOODRaiser and Community Event to be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 21 in a large field at 10515 School Street in Fairfax City.
More than 450 community members, including individuals and families, local congregations, scouts, youth groups and various community organizations have already registered to participate, and people of all ages are invited to join in the fun. Participants will gather to create a unique “living painting” that will be photographed from 80 feet above by artist Daniel Dancer of Art for the Sky. Participants are asked to purchase in advance a special event T-shirt for $5 ($10 for XXL), which will “color” the image, and to bring at least two food pantry donations. To “complete the circle” of hope and giving, the pantry donations will create the perimeter of the picture and will later be distributed to Our Daily Bread’s Food Program clients.
More than 750 community members participated in Our Daily Bread’s 2011 Complete the Circle event and donated more than 3,000 pounds of food and supplies to help needy families throughout the Fairfax County area. ODB’s goal for Complete the Circle 2012 is to have 1,000 participants, raise 10,000 pounds of food and $10,000 in donations to help the working poor throughout the Fairfax County area.
A celebration with refreshments, children’s games and entertainment, and live music will precede the photo shoot, featuring music by young aspiring musicians from School of Rock in Vienna and the Vienna-based barbershop quartet Unchained Harmony. Individuals and groups are encouraged to participate and sponsorships and in-kind donation opportunities are available. All proceeds will benefit Our Daily Bread’s efforts to help struggling families across the Fairfax County area. Participants are requested to register at www.ODBFairfax.org by October 19, but everyone will be welcome to register in person at the event as well.
Oakton High School student DylanKalina Staniszewski, 17, created this year’s Complete the Circle design, winning over more than 20 other designs submitted by local artists and community members for ODB’s design contest in March. DylanKalina will participate in Complete the Circle with her family and friends and has also worked with the Oakton H.S. Photo Club and National Art Honor Society to organize a food drive to collect donations for the FOODRaiser. DylanKalina said, “After becoming involved with ODB, I have learned that you never know who is suffering around you. Even the people that you think are well off and sailing through life may just be wearing a pretty mask to hide the pain they feel. I feel this is important to know because it motivates me to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.” She said she hopes more young people will use their talents and interests to help in the community. “I feel like a lot of teens are hesitant to volunteer for a cause or an organization because they don't think they can make a difference. I think it is important to find a hobby or skill that you enjoy doing and then apply yourself to a cause that you feel strongly about. Complete the Circle was a great opportunity for me to use my passion for art to help others.”
According to Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services, 62,000 Fairfax County residents live below the poverty line ($22,000 annual income for a family of four) and 86,000 live just above poverty. During the 2011-2012 school year, Fairfax County Public Schools reported that more than 46,000 children, or 26 percent of the student population, qualified to receive free or reduced-price meals.
Our Daily Bread assists hundreds of Fairfax County area residents every year. In 2011, the organization provided four months of food assistance to 256 families, emergency financial assistance to 207 families, and budget classes and financial mentoring for 500 families. The non-profit also provided Thanksgiving and December holiday assistance to nearly 3,000 families in 2011 and school supply assistance to 738 children this summer. Many of the individuals and families who receive Our Daily Bread’s services are working but are struggling to pay for housing, utilities, gas and food because of unemployment, reduced work hours, or health care or other crises.
“It takes an income of about $60,000 for a family of four to thrive in Fairfax County. Most of the clients we help only make about $20,000,” said Our Daily Bread Executive Director Lisa Whetzel. “Here in one of the wealthiest areas in the nation, it is shocking that tens of thousands of people struggle with hunger and hardship on a daily basis. We hope the community will come out in force on October 21 to help us create a better understanding of the need here in our own backyard. Together, we will ‘complete the circle’ of hope and giving to improve the lives of our neighbors in need.”
Participating groups include: Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church; Caring Craft Kids from Beech Tree Elementary School; Church of the Holy Comforter; Fairfax United Methodist Youth Group; Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax; Girl Scout Troop 6815; Girl Scout Troop 5416; HABA DABA MOYO; Ladies of Fairfax Walking Group; Mount Vernon Unitarian Church; Teens That Care; and Vienna Presbyterian Church.
Event sponsors include: Friends of Our Daily Bread; The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia; J.O.Y. Charitable Fund; The KohlMark Group; Red Team Consulting; ar-jon Portable Toilets, Inc.; Acumen Solutions; JL Tree Service, Inc.; Apple Federal Credit Union; Crothall Laundry Services – Northern Virginia; “Daisy” the Clown; Freedom Bank of Virginia; Christian Kloc, Juggler; MoveForHunger.com; Paxton Van Lines Springfield; Photography by Hernan Vargas; Salon Khouri; School of Rock; Virginia Commerce Bank; and Virginia Heritage Bank.
Sponsors, in-kind donations and volunteers to help organize and run the event are greatly needed. “We welcome our community’s creative ideas to partner with Our Daily Bread to make the event and celebration a success,” explains Whetzel. “And most important, to be part of the solution to help our neighbors succeed.” For more information, visit www.ODBFairfax.org or call 703-273-8829