Newport News Mayor McKinley Price is getting the word out: The birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is becoming a popular nationwide day of service.
The 2020 MLK Day of Service is January 20. This will be the fourth year that Mayor Price challenges the community to join him in an extremely important food drive for the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank (VPF). Mayor Price says he is very moved by the words of MLK, “What are you doing for others?” With the emphasis on doing, these are the Top 10 reasons Oyster Pointer readers would want to participate:
Virginia Peninsula Foodbank CEO Karen Joyner reports, “Donations are down more than ever before, down 40 percent last year compared with this year.”
The closing of Smithfield’s Newport News location means the VPF will be losing 750,000 pounds of donated pork products used for trading with other food banks that do not get meat. “We got 100,000 pounds of canned goods for our last pork trade, but that meat will not be coming to our area anymore,” Joyner says.
“The ripple effect of local grocery store closings and mergers meant a drop of 250,000 meals we would have otherwise provided in the past,” Joyner says. “There is no ONE face of hunger. It can be anybody. Last year we were helping many families affected by the government shutdown. There are hidden faces of hunger. One out of every three people we serve is a child,” she says.
Since Mayor Price’s food drive brought in the equivalent of 27,000 meals last year, he set his goal at 30,000 meal equivalents for 2020. The VPF provides posters and donation boxes “that we put on every floor of city hall. They will provide the boxes to anyone who needs them,” says Mayor Price.
Mayor Price adds, “Friendly competition can make the food drive a lot of fun. Last year, Riverside physicians had a contest between the inside hospital staff and their physicians outside the hospital. This year, I enjoy challenging Hampton’s Mayor Donnie Tuck to beat us.”
Volunteers can work on the MLK Day of Service at the Foodbank, helping to unload and weigh donations and “freeze their toes off with me,” Mayor Price says. Mayor Price is well known not to enjoy cold weather but believes deeply in the obligation to serve others to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Joyner adds that volunteers do not have to wait until MLK Day of Service to help assemble 1,900 backpacks of meals that go home with school students each week. “We used to make 1,500 backpacks each week but we now also support Head Start and early learning centers. To get involved, just call Tracy Hansbrough at Extension 101!” Joyner says.
“We will even go pick up an organization’s donations if we are needed for that,” says Mayor Price.
After the holiday season, Virginia Peninsula Foodbank shelves become badly depleted and need replenishing. Mayor Price says of this food drive, “There is no better way to serve, no better organization and no better timing on the calendar!
“Even if you don’t participate in this food drive, make a personal commitment to do something of service that day to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory,” Mayor Price says.
TO THE POINT:
Virginia Peninsula Foodbank
Address: 2401 Aluminum Ave., Hampton, VA 23661
Contact: Karen Joyner, CEO
Business: Community foodbank