A Thank You Love Letter to Our supporters as We Close on Holiday Helpings 2019
As the newest member of Bread for the City’s development department, I jumped right into Holiday Helpings, the decades-long program offering full holiday meal kits in November and December to neighbors living with low incomes in Washington, DC. And I jumped in with a hefty goal – to help Bread for the City provide 11,000 or more holiday meals, our most ambitious number yet. Reflecting back, I wouldn’t change this baptism-by-fire approach. Holiday Helpings brings out the best of Bread for the City. It turned out to be a wonderful season for my orientation to this heartfelt organization, striving to provide a stabilizing step-up for those who are encountering hardship, especially during the holiday season.
As the dust of those lovingly frenzied months settle and we count our successes not only in dollars raised or turkeys and hams distributed but in the gratitude of our clients who were able to host a holiday meal in their own homes (using their own recipes with ingredients we provided), I’m reflecting on those who made this effort possible: our donors and partners. You are the champions behind the heroes because, yes, every single one of our clients are heroes. They are faced with enormous challenges day in and day out and they show bravery in persevering, in seeking out the resources necessary to provide for themselves and their families. As a supporter of Holiday Helpings, you stepped up and made it possible for us to say “yes” to 11,103 families experiencing financial hardship during the holiday season – many of which have grown accustomed to hearing “no” again and again. Because of you, we were able to increase our impact from the 9,000 families we provided for last year – a 20% increase in one year alone.
For those of you who have been longtime supporters of Holiday Helpings (some of you for decades!), we’re so grateful that you once again stepped forward for your neighbors at this critical time. For those of you who participated for the first time, I’m right there with you! Within hours of gifts arriving – through online drives, hard-written checks, or from those inspired by our appearance on NBC4 – these funds were already at work helping families who turn to us for their holiday meals. I witnessed our devoted food staff giving out upwards of 200 turkey bags a day. By providing even one holiday meal kit for a Bread for the City client, you’ve impacted not only that client but their family, their holiday guests, and, by extension, the entire community.
Many of our clients come into one of Bread for the City’s two centers because of our food program. Bread for the City operates the largest food pantry in Washington, DC. And many of them come for Holiday Helpings – having heard from friends or family that you can get a full holiday meal kit, including a turkey and all the trimmings, from Bread for the City. It is only at that first visit to our food pantry that new clients then learn about our additional wrap-around services – clothing, legal and social services, and medical care – all under one roof. Board member and client Courtney Dowe recently reflected: “Once I connected there, I realized there was so much more that could help me … Building me up as a person in so many more ways than I ever anticipated from just standing in a food line.”
From donated fitness classes to elementary school bake sale fundraisers, our wider Bread family found ever more interesting ways to support Holiday Helpings. We partnered with Pizzeria Paradiso, DC Brau, and BKK Cookshop; had an amazing matchday thanks to our dedicated board member, Kate Toomey; saw still more champions pitch in during Giving Tuesday, and even flashed back to our bar & bat-mitzvah memories with Shaw neighbors Ivy & Coney at their annual themed Bread for the City “gala”.
In just two months, we raised over $456,000 in support of Holiday Helpings – through 116 drive partners, including many generous corporate sponsors, and individual donors. We welcomed over a dozen volunteer groups helping us to pack thousands of trimmings bags, set up temporary turkey distribution rooms, called for support with NBC4’s Molette Green, and watched client after client walk out with a bag that held much more than just food for one holiday meal. They walked out knowing someone was looking out for them, their family, and their community. We can be that someone only because of you. On behalf of all those who benefit from your generosity, thank you to our donors, partners, and Bread for the City family for all you did for us this holiday season. What a beautiful, frantic, and purposeful time for me to start my tenure here, at the community superstar that is Bread for the City.
Thank you to our 2019 Holiday Helpings drive partners (listed below). In addition to these drive partners, we share special appreciation to our Bread for the City staff who hosted 77 individual drives sponsoring 1,146 families:
Alston & Bird LLP
Bernstein Management Corporation
Blank Rome LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Credit Union National Association DC
Jessica Del Vecchio & Chris Williams
Goodwin Procter LLP
Kelley Cannon Events
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss
Motley Rice LLC
Optum Advisory Services
Share Our Strength
Sidley Austin LLP
Income & Benefits Policy Center at Urban Institute
Labor, Human Services, and Population Institute at Urban Institute
The Vaughan Family
White & Case LLP
Wiley Rein LLP