Heidi's Pantry Helps Families in Need
A grassroots food pantry helps families on Fort Belvoir and Mount Vernon.
Each week, Christine Vance and a group of fellow military wives assemble at her home on Fort Belvoir to sort through piles of donated items such as baby and kids’ clothing and food.
These items help many families at Fort Belvoir who visit Heidi’s Pantry every Friday. Those in need visit Vance’s home each week to pick up essentials.
Vance started Heidi’s Pantry eight months ago after learning from a friend who works at the Lorton food pantry that unused bread is disposed of after the pantry closes on Friday. Vance thought, why not take that bread to help others? She would pick up the bread every Friday and post what she had on Fort Belvoir Free, a craigslist-type website, and people would come to her home and take what they needed.
However, there are many large families on post who had a greater need, and she would run out of bread. She began to learn what other items these families needed, and she would post those needs on Fort Belvoir Free. Word spread throughout the entire post via the site and people would bring extra formula, diapers, food, and juice to Vance’s home.
“A lady came in and got bread and started to cry,” Vance recalled, adding that the woman and her family were struggling financially. “We ended up giving her things she needed. We stocked her pantry.”
Heidi’s Pantry has helped 20 families stock their pantries so far. The grassroots effort, named after Vance’s best friend who passed away unexpectedly two years ago, focuses on helping lower enlisted military or large families. Heidi’s Pantry has also helped supply a Wounded Warriors program in Bethesda with snacks and Gatorade on a monthly basis. No matter how large or small the need is, Heidi’s Pantry is open to anyone in need.
Vance says Heidi’s Pantry has truly grown into a community where people are willing to help others.
“Everyone needs help sometimes,” she said. “It’s not just a place to come when you need help. It’s a way for people to meet their neighbors. It not only helps people learn to stretch budget, this helps kids get the grains they need, the fruits and vegetables they need that they otherwise can’t afford.”
Word of Heidi’s Pantry spread beyond the gates and into Mount Vernon. The Woodlawn Elementary School PTO has agreed to help Heidi’s Pantry with its upcoming coat drive in October.
If you are interested in donating to Heidi’s Pantry, join their Facebook group to learn about current needs.