Fort Hunt children make sandwiches for Martha's Table.
What started out as a family effort to pitch in, helping those in need of food during the pandemic has blossomed into a bigger effort called “Be the
Good Project,” that’s brought community together, fed thousands and taught life lessons to those who participated.
“This is a lesson that’s impossible to teach,” said Amber Marchand, a Lake Braddock Secondary School alumni who is one of the forces behind the project. Together with her husband Sterling, and children Foster, 8, Quinn, 7, Ford, 5, and Milo, 3, and lots of people in the community, they’ve spent the past months feeding many across the area.
Thousands of sandwiches go across the Potomac River to Martha’s Table in Anacostia, while non-perishables go to the United Community Ministries in Mount Vernon, and the rest of the food goes to other distribution efforts in the area.
“Our goal is at least 1000 sandwiches a week to Martha’s Table,” Amber Marchand said.
Food and nutrition have been at the heart and soul of Martha’s Table since they opened in 1980, the website read. McKenna’s Wagon is a part of Martha’s that delivers food, including sandwiches, to off-site locations.
“It’s been a real blessing to our family to see the community come together,” said Amber Marchand. By getting her children involved, “they understand the need, feel they can impact change.”
The Marchands live in the Fort Hunt area and work with local scouts, school groups, a salon in Old Town, Alexandria called “Stylists At North,” the Aldersgate Day School in Mount Vernon, and the West Potomac High School dance team.
“The word of mouth has been incredible,” said Marchand.
Amber Marchand is an artist too, and her doodles have turned into a donation source as well. “I draw custom illustrations — or “doodles,“ as we call them — and all of the proceeds go towards buying more bulk groceries for families in need,” she said. They accept financial donations as well.
Masks Are a Must
Everyone involved knows how important it is to be safe from the coronavirus, so they are extra careful to minimize contact, wear masks and gloves and do as much as possible remotely. At Martha’s Table for example, the organization brings out a cart, volunteers at “The Good Project,” fill it with boxes of sandwiches, and it goes back inside. They work with Martha’s mobile unit called McKenna’s Wagon. “We’re very careful,” Marchand said.
At United Community, they participated in the “Stuff the Bus,” event a few weeks ago, and to get support beforehand, Marchand’s children made a video that highlighted the event.
“They’re very involved,” she said.
Since June, they’ve delivered more than 6,200 pounds of non-perishable foods to UCM and keep a big plastic container in front of our mailbox in Fort Hunt where people drop-off food each week.
The Fort Hunt neighbors have been creative and asked for donations at birthday car parades, collected from Girl Scout troops, and passed out flyers on other streets in addition to adding extra items to their grocery carts to help families in need.