FISH’s primary mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to help people meet short-term financial crises, such as aiding with rent payments to prevent evictions and helping to pay utility bills to avoid shut-offs. But every year at Christmas time, we take on another major project – providing gifts of food and toys to low-income families. This is a major effort that helps to make the holiday season a bit happier for needy families in the Herndon and Reston area. In addition, our holiday program reinforces our main mission because providing toys and food for the holidays relieves our client families of a financial burden and thus helps avoid financial crises. (We traditionally provide non-perishable foods and gifts for children, but the problems of distributing physical items during the coronavirus pandemic make this approach unworkable in 2020 because of the pandemic. So, instead, we will be providing gift cards that families can use to purchase food and toys for their children.)
In the 2019 holiday season we helped 231 families. They are invited to participate as a result of referrals that we received from schools and nonprofits. 165 families received both toys and food, with gifts going to 301 children up to age 11 and gift cards going to 108 teenagers. The gifts for kids range anywhere from bicycles to books to stuffed animals to more traditional toys. Other families received bags of food.
FISH could not carry out this effort without the support of the community. The food that we give away is provided by collections made by Boy Scout troops and schools as well as donations from businesses. The funding for the toys came from 23 businesses, service clubs, nonprofits, individuals, and FISH.
In addition, members of the community contribute their time to help set up and distribute the food and toys that we give away. In total, 45 volunteers participated in the preparation for and operation of the event. In all, the time spent by volunteers and FISH coordinators totaled almost 370 hours. Also helping to make the event a success were the pastors and staff of the United Christian Parish and social workers from the various elementary schools and non-profits in Herndon and Reston who supported our efforts.
We were pleased to get some notes of thanks written by elementary school students from one of the schools we helped. Here is a sampling of what we received:
"Dear FISH: Thank you so much for the donations to our school over the holidays. The gifts that you sent to our families were amazing. You made the holidays very special for a lot of the families at [our school]. Your generosity is very appreciated by many. Hope you have a great year!"
"You are the Best Fish in the world. Thank you so much for donations to our school over the holidays. Thank you.”
"Dear Fish. Thank you so much for the donation to our school. Thank you so much. You guys are super nice!"
It is nice to be appreciated, and we are pleased to be able to help families during the holidays..
On December 14, FISH Provided Food Assistance and Children's Gifts to Needy Families in Herndon and Reston
FISH Recognized by Fairfax County for Service to the Community
At the FISH Fling Gala on May 18, Fairfax County Supervisor John W. Foust presented FISH President Robert Reed with a Resolution of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors congratulating FISH for "50 years of exceptional, noteworthy and compassionate support to those in need."
Activities of the Holiday Season
Amazing food donations ready to make holidays bright for local families!
During the 1918 Holiday Season, FISH helped needy families by distributing donated food and Christmas gifts for children. In total we served more than 1200 individuals and 313 households.Some of the people who helped collect the food and gifts are pictured below. Thanks to all who donated and to the volunteers who helped distribute the items.
The toys for children included many wonderful books.
Thanks to Armstrong Elementary School
Thanks to the Armstrong Elementary SCA leaders and their community for awesome efforts in food collections!
FISH Thanks Dominion Energy
On November 13, 2018, Dominion Energy donated backpacks stuffed with new school supplies to FISH for Holiday distribution. The picture to the left is their committee posing with the donations. Thank You to Dominion Energy.
Thanks to CDW from FISH
CDW Volunteers help to load food donated by CDW for the FISH Holiday distribution. Thanks to CDW from FISH.
FISH Thanks SallieMae
SallieMae Volunteers load food donated by SallieMae for the FISH Holiday distribution. Thank you to SallieMae.
Thanks to Scouts from FISH
FISH extends thanks to the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts for supporting FISH for Food Holiday collections. Several troops collected food out in the Reston neighborhoods and then delivered and sorted it at the United Christian Parish Church.
Thanks to the Swim & Dive Teams from South Lakes and Herndon High Schools
They collected cans of tuna for FISH Holiday programs on Friday night, November 30th.
FISH Thanks Students of Terraset Elementary School
These students organized food donations from Terraset Elementary School in Reston. They collected 1000 food items for the Holiday Program of FISH. Students from Terraset have collected food for 20 years for this program!
FISH participated in the CFC Giving Campaign, December 12, 2018 at U.S. Geological Survey
FISH Thanks Students of Armstrong Elementary School
Students collected approximately 24 boxes of food for the FISH.
FISH Thanks Holder Construction in Partnership with the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA)
For donating 150 string bags full of healthy after-school snacks! The bags will be provided to kids receiving holiday assistance from FISH!