By Terry Harris
The strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have hit small, rural areas particularly hard, according to Sussex Lions Club President Katrina Faltz, and they are determined to do something about it. So, they have partnered with Great Value, Dollar General and Family Dollar in Wakefield and the Dollar General stores in Waverly and Jarratt for a food drive that allows local citizens who want to help with the food crisis so many local families are facing now.
“Lions Club International celebrates hunger awareness month in January as one of our service projects,” she explained. “We are calling on folks in Sussex County to join us before January 17 in providing support to our friends and neighbors in need by participating in our 1st Annual Food drive. Now more than ever the world needs our support, and the Sussex County Lions Club is uniting in kindness to do its part to help our community get through this global pandemic.”
She emphasized that this food drive will specifically benefit three local food banks - Mission Ministries in Waverly, Wakefield U M Church House of Hope Food Pantry, and Yale Seventh Day Adventist Church Food Pantry, and added that it has been set up in a way to make it easy for people to participate.
“All you have to do is purchase essential and some specialty, non-perishable items like peanut butter, low or no-sugar canned fruit, low-sugar cereal, canned vegetables, macaroni and cheese and soups, and place them in their donation bins in the front of each store,” she explained.
“The need is very dire, because this is a rural area without a lot of resources like larger cities have,” she continued. “There are a lot of people in Sussex County that lost their jobs or are underserved here, so we have to bond together to make things happen - to make sure we can help out as many people as possible.”
While the Lions are often thought of as a service organization focused on eyesight issues, and they do have an eyeglasses reclamation project coming up in February, Faltz said that they recently also participated locally in helping The James House Intervention/Prevention Services Inc., Sussex County Social Services Angel Tree project, Children’s Hospital @VCU, and Adopt an elder Angel Tree project at Accordions Health at Waverly over the holidays.
As for the current food drive, Faltz said, “I feel great about this project. In this county there are a lot of local people who need help right now but are reluctant to reach out for help. But they need the help. They need this food to be able to feed their families. We want to help as many people as we can not only with the food, but hopefully to understand that we all need help sometimes and if there’s a resource available and we can help people who need it, that’s what we want to do.”
“I’m really proud of how the community is coming together,” she continued. “Even though many people are at a deficit themselves right now, they care enough about others even less fortunate to help them with this food. Anyone is invited to make donations through these stores through January 17 when our members will collect it, divide it, and distribute it to those local food banks on January 18.”
“The Lions Club International is the largest service organization in the world,” she added. “We only have 28 members here in Sussex County right now, but we all work hard to try to help people who need help, and we’re always looking for more like-minded people ‘with a heart of gold’ to join us.”
Asked why this project is so important to her, Faltz smiled and said, “I saw a need in the community to help people. That is my God-given gift, and I want to utilize it to its fullest potential.”
For questions or to donate for this or other projects, write to Sussex County Lions Club/P.O. Box 605/Waverly, VA. 23890.