Courtney James: 704-310-3768
Holidays can be particularly trying for those struggling to make ends meet for their families. Many are forced to make tough decisions between paying bills or buying groceries, making it even harder to find special moments in what most people take for granted as a time for gatherings and celebrations.
Understanding the need across its region, Food Lion partnered with local food banks as well as Smithfield Foods to donate more than 300 meals to families in West Virginia and Virginia.
Below, we've included their heartwarming stories. All donations are part of Food Lion Feeds' mission to donate 500 million meals by 2020.
Be sure to keep up with the Food Lion Feeds team by following us here on our Lion's Tale blog or on Twitter @FoodLionNews.
March 27 – Kearneysville, W. Va., at Leetown Baptist Church
Shelli Bramblett moved to Kearneysville, W. Va., a few years ago with her husband who was offered a job.
All was well until he was unexpectedly laid off. It took them a while to get back on their feet, but they did,
"It was really hard at times," the Food Lion associate said Tuesday during an on-site interview at a Food Lion Feeds Easter distribution event.
Fast-forward to three months later.
The Food Lion store manager in Shepherdstown, W. Va., hired her as a front end associate. Bramblett was one of 20 local associates who volunteered to pack 150 bags of Food Lion branded product and 150 Smithfield hams to give away later that day to local families in need.
"Personally, I always start my day with a smile, but today I can truly say that my face hurts from smiling," Bramblett said. "It's so nice to see members of my team outside the store working together to help people."
Associates packed bags full of cans of corn, green beans, tuna, flour, sugar, sweet potatoes, onions, stuffing mix, fresh baby carrots and other items into blue and white Food Lion reusable bags.
They also packed 150 bags with boneless hams, all as part of Food Lion's Easter Eats initiative. This is the second year Food Lion is executing the initiative that benefit small towns and cities where Food Lion stores are located.
Local families showed up in the rain Tuesday with their vouchers ready to take advantage of the donation event. All were very thankful and had personal conversations with the associates as they walked to their cars.
"It's very humbling and it's pretty cool work that the company does to be in the communities," Food Lion Director of Operations Eric Sword told his associates before the packing and distribution event. "I am very proud of the organization to support this event year after year."
March 28 – Chesapeake, Va., at Southside Baptist Church
It was just days before Easter in the South Norfolk neighborhood of Chesapeake, Va., and a great many families were without the means to purchase food for their loved ones, much less provide a special meal for the holiday.
To alleviate the tough choices many in this area are forced to make, Food Lion partnered with Smithfield and the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore to provide holiday meals to more than 150 families at Southside Baptist Church on March 28.
"I love giving back to the community," said Veronica, a local Food Lion associate. "This is my first time volunteering with Food Lion through Food Lion Feeds and it is wonderful. There are so many great people here today willing to help, enjoying what they're doing and giving their time.
Veronica was one of 12 Food Lion associate volunteers from three area stores who came to pack bags filled with Smithfield hams as well as cans of corn, green beans, tuna, flour, sugar, sweet potatoes, onions, stuffing mix and fresh baby carrots.
"Working for a company who does something like this really makes you feel good," said Ashley, another local Food Lion associate. "Not only am I part of this community, but I recognize that I could very well be in their same shoes, so it feels great to give back."
The volunteers distributed the food bags to more than 150 Chesapeake and Norfolk, Va.,-area families.
Other local officials were on-site to help with the distribution and give back to their neighbors.
"Today, thanks to Food Lion, Smithfield and the Food Bank, we are able to provide meals for the community they would otherwise be without," said Carolyn Latham, President, South Norfolk Neighborhood Watch Group. "I think what Food Lion is doing and what they do on a regular basis is extraordinary; it's inspiring."
Many recipients of the meals shared their thanks and expressed how much Food Lion meant to them. Latham said this was a nod to the feeling the company brings to its neighbors, no matter their situation.
"We have a Food Lion here in town, and it's convenient, the staff is personable; you get the feeling they are your neighbors," Latham shared.
The impact was tangible as each person left with a smile on their face and warmth in their hearts.
"I think the community is going to be very grateful for what we've done for them today and it's going to make a good day for them on Easter," added Veronica.
Courtney James: 704-310-3768