The Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), a public preschool program for at-risk 4-year-olds, is currently in its sixth year of operation in Fauquier County. Since its inception, VPI has benefited from the generosity of several community organizations that have provided donations and or grants to the program. The private-public partnerships that have developed in the county have provided preschoolers with much-needed supplies and nutrition.
A long-time supporter of VPI, Saint James’ Episcopal Church & School in Warrenton, recently donated a number of items for use by the VPI program, including boxes of tissues, masks and hand sanitizer. These donations materialized from Saint James’ Episcopal School’s monthly altruistic project whereby school children and their families donate requested items.
Recognizing that children beyond preschool may also be in need this school year, Jennifer Taylor, Director of Family Ministries at Saint James’, reached out to FRESH supervisor Kristen McAuliffe to identify additional ways the school might help. In collaboration with the FRESH Program, a system was created where students in Mrs. Stitely’s fourth-grade class fulfill supply requests from teachers throughout the county.
Taylor stated, “Service to others is a big part of our Episcopal identity, and I want each student to know they can make a difference in our community regardless of their age. The students have taken such pride in this project and are pleased to know they are helping others.”
Also lending a helping hand is A Little Heart, a 501c3 organization located in The Plains, and Highland School in Warrenton, VA. Together they have continued to provide and pack hundreds of snow day kits. Used during the school year, when there is a possibility of a snow day, the kits are typically sent home with children who may not have enough to eat. Each snow day kit provides a day’s worth of food and includes a breakfast item, a lunch item, fruit, a snack and a dinner item, all in a resealable storage bag.
While the Fauquier School Nutrition Department provides meals to families in need, numbers can vary drastically from week to week, complicating the planning. The availability of snow day kits guarantees that no one leaves a distribution site without food for their children.
In October, during their Community Time curriculum, Highland's Class of 2024 learned about the mission and efforts of Fauquier FRESH and assembled snow day kits with supplies provided by A Little Heart charity.
“We're so grateful for the opportunity to engage our students in this vital community effort to provide meals to other students and families in our area,” said Megan Catalfamo, Leadership Coordinator for Highland School.
The FRESH team is actively seeking individuals and local nonprofits interested in collaborating to help families in need. To donate or join the FRESH team in helping with a future project, please contact Kristen McAuliffe at firstname.lastname@example.org.