Virginia Family’s Nonprofit Has Donated More Than 30,000 Pounds of Food During Pandemic
When Amber and Sterling Marchand learned about the increased need food pantries are experiencing amidst the coronavirus pandemic, they knew they wanted to help. In June, the couple and their four children started a small food drive by placing a box in front of their Northern Virginia home for neighbors and friends to drop off non-perishables.
"The box was filled immediately," Amber told Southern Living, "so we continued to spread the word."
They also began partnering with local nonprofits like Martha's Table, a Washington, D.C.-based organization with numerous initiatives, including delivering hundreds of sandwiches daily to the city's homeless community.
When they learned that Martha's Table was in need of 250 more sandwiches a day, they rolled up their sleeves and started making sandwiches. After posting about their effort on Facebook, their friends began donating supplies, and their home became a sort of sandwich-making hub.
"Before long, we realized we needed more refrigeration, so we bought five mini fridges for our laundry room and eventually added two more full-sized refrigerators in the garage," Amber said. "We now collect and deliver more than 1,500 sandwiches each week thanks to the efforts of our generous friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors."
By July, the Marchand's front yard food drive had evolved into its own nonprofit. The goal of Be The Good Project is to provide families, scout troops, teams, and other volunteers with a safe and simple way to help their neighbors impacted by hunger and food insecurity.
At the start of 2021, the Marchands learned that some local families were facing challenges accessing food pantries due to transportation issues, quarantine periods, and health emergencies. So, they launched their first "Little Free Food Pantry" in Alexandria. These boxes—similar to Little Free Libraries—are stocked with non-perishable foods and bear the message "Take what you need and leave what you can."
Since June, Be The Good Project has donated more than 30,000 pounds of food, and counting. They will also deliver their 50,000th sandwich to Martha's Table next week.
At the end of the day, it's still a family affair.
"Our four young children, ages 9 to 3, are a part of every aspect of Be The Good—from making sandwiches, sorting food, bagging care packages, delivering donations, and encouraging their friends to get involved," Amber said, adding that working together as a family has been a bright spot in a challenging time.
"It's been incredible to see how our own kids, and so many others who have volunteered, have embraced the mission of Be The Good and understand they can tangibly help their neighbors who need food."