Heidi's Pantry continues to give and receive
November 29, 2012
Heidi's Pantry gave 21 Thanksgiving baskets containing a Turkey, side dishes, and recipes to prepare the side dishes, to Families at Fort Belvoir prior to Thanksgiving Day. Heidi's Pantry has continued to grow as a group.
In the last month, Heidi's Pantry has received donations and phone calls from local organizations like Product Manager-Force Protection System, The Daughters of the Revolutionary War, The Navy Wives Club and the Quality Inn who want to support the group in any way they can.
"PM-FPS started doing their collection for food for the holidays and wanted to come to us," said Christine Vance, Heidi's Pantry founder. "They gave us green beans, carrots, corn, coffee, stuffing, dinner rolls, macaroni and cheese, cake mixes, brownie mixes, and bread mixes. They gave us all this stuff (Nov. 20)."
Retired Army Lt. Col Mike Johnston, PM-FPS security consultant, brought more than 20 chickens to Vance's house because, according to him, it's "just the right thing to do."
"I was there once," said Johnston. "I retired 26 years ago and at one point was an enlisted guy, married with a couple kids, and it was tough. I just know a lot of Soldiers and their Families don't want to ask for help. So, to have a place like this, that is private, they will come here."
Johnston said Soldiers relied on their Families for extra support while he was on active-duty. He said he found his life in the Army and that's why he does what he can to continue to support Soldiers.
"I was from a rural area, and I always pictured my future being working in a factory and living in a double-wide, until I got drafted," said Johnston. "It's always been about the guys standing next to you. If you take care of the Soldiers they will take care of you."
The Quality Inn also provided Vance with products that Heidi's Pantry has donated to the wounded Soldier program at Bethesda Medical Center. The products help them through their rehabilitation program and include Gatorade, energy bars and individually wrapped treats.
The Navy Wives Club provided bags of clothing and takes an inventory every week of what Vance needs and does what it can to provide for those needs.
The Villages at Belvoir is also involved.
"They want us to provide them monthly updates so they can help us with communication," said Vance. "Every quarter, they donate funds to an organization and they want us to be one of them. We aren't prepared to take money right now, so I gave them a list and, if they want to purchase items off the list, they can and will bring them to us."
PM-FPS is also providing Vance with chickens and hams so she can organize Christmas baskets for Families who may need a Christmas dinner.
"It's going to be mostly turkeys and hams," said Vance. "But, we're going to try to work with what we can so if a Family prefers a different meal we can do that."
Heidi's Pantry gave out over 250 jackets over Veterans Day weekend to Belvoir residents, National Capital Region residents, and residents in Fairfax and Prince William Counties.
Vance said the group also gave out jeans, long-sleeve sweat shirts, long-sleeve shirts, hoodies, shoes, boots, snow suits, hats, gloves, scarves, mittens and dress clothing during the coat drive.
"We had enough to donate to the Lorton Community Action Center," said Vance. "They needed women's and girl's jackets."
Vance started the group in February by taking leftover bread from the Lorton Food Bank and passing it out in her neighborhood. She never thought the group would grow the way it has.
"I never thought it would get this big," said Vance. "I thought it would fizzle out after three weeks. I thought people would be like 'Ok, I'm tired of going to her house.'"
Despite her early thoughts, Vance is extremely grateful for everyone who has helped grow the group from it's infancy to where it is now.
"I couldn't have done this alone," said Vance. "I am extremely grateful for every individual and organization that has contributed to our cause."