Lerner Corp. has donated 20,000 square feet of space in a Sterling office building for the Community Holiday Coalition to conduct this year's Thanksgiving and Christmas food basket program and winter coat drive.
The coalition had been searching for space since learning in mid-September that the Lerner building on Route 28 in eastern Loudoun County, where it has operated its holiday store for two years, would not be available this year.
With Thanksgiving only 21/2 weeks away and about 800 families expected to request assistance, coalition coordinator Karen Velez expressed relief, even though the lease expires on the new space at the end of the year.
"It was getting very, very tense, to say the least," she said. "Literally hundreds of calls [were made], not just by me. I had volunteers, donors, recipients calling people. There's a lot of support for this program in the community."
The Salvation Army, however, is still looking for 5,000 square feet of storage and distribution space for its Angel Tree Christmas gift program. Both organizations also need volunteers.
Velez said she had to put 60 pallets of tables, coat racks, refrigerators and other items into storage after her space across the parking lot from Wegmans was rented to a furniture company. She said that before the new Lerner space became available, Loudoun Transit officials offered her about 5,000 square feet of space in Purcellville for Thanksgiving only.
Velez said the Holiday Coalition helped 800 families last Thanksgiving and 1,100 at Christmas, and she said she expected the numbers to be about the same this year. The deadline has passed for applying for Thanksgiving baskets, but applications will be taken for Christmas baskets until Nov. 30.
The new location for the Holiday Coalition, which includes nonprofit and government agencies in Loudoun, is in the Vintage Park One Office Complex, 45335 Vintage Park Plaza, off Routes 28 and 606. Velez said that the lease at that site will expire Dec. 31 and that she will have to find space for next year.
"It would be nice to have a permanent home," she said. "If we had a permanent home, we could do so much more year-round to help people."
Donations can be made at Holiday Coalition sites throughout the county, which have already opened, or at Vintage Park Plaza next Sunday and Nov. 15. Recipients will be able to pick up their baskets from Nov. 16 to 18.
Velez said one of the main ways people can donate to the Holiday Coalition is to participate in the Boy Scout food drive. Boy Scouts were to distribute plastic bags to homes in Loudoun this weekend and pick up filled bags Saturday. The Boy Scouts collected 56,000 pounds of food last year.
"We look for traditional holiday food: stuffing, yams, vegetables, potatoes, pumpkin pie filling and crust mix, boxed hot roll mix and other nonperishable foods," Velez said. "We prefer grocery store gift cards to be used for the turkey and other perishables."
In addition to food, the Holiday Coalition is collecting gently used and clean winter coats and blankets for distribution with Thanksgiving food baskets. Coats are needed in all sizes from infant through adult but especially for children and teenagers. New gloves, hats and mittens will be distributed in December.
Cash donations can be made payable to County of Loudoun-Holiday Program and sent to 102 Heritage Way NE, Suite 200, Leesburg, Va. 20176.
Donations of food and clothes may be dropped off at all Loudoun County community centers; the Ashburn Ice House; Arcola and South Riding fire stations; Dulles Town Center mall (coats only until Nov. 16 and then nonperishable food); Edward Jones, 108-A South St., Leesburg; Eastern Regional Library in Sterling; Glen Apartments in Leesburg; Good Shepherd Thrift Shop in Sterling; Guardian Storage in Leesburg, Ashburn and Chantilly; Hunt Country Furniture in Leesburg; Jerry's Florist and Leesburg Pharmacy, Virginia Village Shopping Center in Leesburg; Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association, 222 Catoctin Cir., in Leesburg; Middleburg Bank at all locations; Potomac Valley Bank, Leisure World and Lansdowne; Rivercreek Country Club & Community, 43730 Olympic Blvd., in Leesburg; Sawdust Specialties & More, 8 Fort Evans Rd. in Leesburg; South Riding Town Hall; Store to Door in Ashburn; United Bank in Sterling; and World Gym in Leesburg and Sterling.
To help with receiving, sorting and distributing donations, call 703-737-8367.
For more information on the Thanksgiving or the December programs, call 703-771-5718 or visit www.loudoun.gov and click on Holiday Coalition under "Hot Topics."
Applications in English and Spanish are available online and at the Loudoun County Department of Social Services, 102 Heritage Way NE, Suite 200, Leesburg, Loudoun Interfaith Relief and the Good Shepherd Thrift Shop in Sterling, or by calling 703-771-5718.
The Salvation Army of Loudoun County said it needs 5,000 square feet of storage and distribution space from Friday to Jan. 8. The space must be heated and have adequate lighting and at least one restroom. Contact Capt. Syung Young Lee at 703-771-3371 or email@example.com. The Salvation Army will provide a letter for tax purposes, pay the utility costs and provide an insurance rider for its personnel and volunteers who will be using the space.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering for either the Angel Tree or Kettle Drive should contact Jennifer Coombs at 703-771-3371 or christmas@SalvationArmyLoudoun.com.