‘Food for Others’ Partnership Fuels Helpful Community

Northern Virginia is considered one of the wealthiest places in the country, and though it may not be as extensive as in some areas, we still have a poverty rate of approximately 5%. According to 2011 statistics, there were a little over a million people living in Fairfax County. This means that more than 90,000 people are living in poverty, with roughly 30 percent of them being children, based on U.S. census figures.

However, the Students of the Robinson Vision Program (also known as VIPs) are tackling this problem by teaming up with the organization “Food for Others,” the largest supplier of free food in Northern Virginia, through creating the First Annual Food Drive. The students spread the word about the drive via Good Morning Robinson, flyers and donation boxes in the lunchroom. Donations were collected throughout the past couple of weeks, whether they were being placed in the donation boxes or directly delivered to room 409. The last day to donate food was Dec. 14.  Although the drive has managed to collect two boxes full of canned food, many students were not even aware the food drive was occurring.

“If they don’t put it out there, it won’t go anywhere,” freshman Chase Michael said.

VIP students formed the idea to have a food drive in their research of ways to help the community, and after deciding a food drive would be the most helpful and easiest to get started, they began. Putting up flyers and having announcements on Good Morning Robinson were the main ways the students got the word out, as well as revealing the event to their classes. However, since many students had never even heard of the food drive, some students had the opinion they needed to do more to let everyone know.

“I know that a lot of what they do is through GMR, but I know that a lot of teachers don’t show GMR, or students don’t pay attention, or they’re in a classroom without a TV, so that’s definitely not the best way,” junior Hallie Heinzen said. “Perhaps third period announcements, or through RAISE.”

However, despite limited attention, the Students of the Robinson Vision Program are enthusiastic about their success.

“It’s good to give to others, because it shows that you have compassion and that you can give help as well,” Ixchel Larraura said. “It’s taught me how to be a leader and help others, along with organizing a big group event.”

Though the advertising may not have gone smoothly, the Vision Program students have hope for next time. The idea of assigning donation boxes to core teachers has come up, along with putting up posters.

“The more people that hear about it, the better it will be,” lead vision teacher Shanna McVey said. “If it’s a success, they’re going to try to do it throughout the school year, where they collect, and maybe a few times a year deliver to ‘Food for Others.’”

One of the underlying reasons for the Students of the Robinson Vision Program to carry out this food drive is that they will be going on a lesson when they hand food out; they will be learning to orient around the community, using means of guiding themselves through crowds and taking public transportation. This is how the students will be delivering to “Food for Others.” Besides wanting to learn how to become more mobile in the community, the students are eager to demonstrate what they can do and how they can help others during the holidays.

“People think that the blind and people with vision impairments can’t do much, and because of their impairments will underestimate what they can do,” Larraura said. “Getting permissions and getting all of this settled and organized is not easy, finding the time to go to ‘Food for Others,’ organizing it with all our teachers, and the whole school. It’s a challenge, but it’s been a good experience.”