Church-donated food distributed by Spanish-language wards helps feed Latino families in Virginia

The Woodbridge Virginia Stake recently shepherded a sizable effort by the Church to provide food assistance for those struggling during difficult times. 

More than 500 large, individual family care boxes of food were dispersed Saturday, June 27, at no cost to Hispanic families in Prince William County, Virginia, which is south of Washington, D.C.

Two local Spanish-language wards from the Woodbridge Stake took the lead in organizing and distributing the food care boxes gifted by the Church. After receiving the 22-pallet truck load of food from Salt Lake City, local members spent hours sorting and preparing the boxes and bags of food, which included canned beans, dried fruit, spaghetti, noodles, tomato paste, flour, sugar, pancake mix, salsa and cooking oil. Members worked long hours sorting the food in a tight window of time.   

When the moment came for distribution within the community, there was uncertainty about the amount of people who would respond. The response was significant. Car after car lined up in the parking lot and around the main streets of a local middle school where the boxes were given out. The response was so large that local law enforcement officers assisted with traffic flow. 

At least 1,000 people received food assistance. 

“It was physically difficult work, but it was a sacred work, and the definition of grace is to lovingly do something for another that they are unable to do themselves,” said Bishop Matt Sheets of the Potomac River Ward.

Woodbridge Virginia Stake President David Oryang, in blue shirt, greets people receiving food during stake-coordinated food drive.
Woodbridge Virginia Stake President David Oryang, in blue shirt, greets people receiving food during stake-coordinated food drive. Credit: Photo by JJ Jarvis

Bishop Juan Carlos Urrutia of the Occoquan River Ward added that “he and his ward were excited to help and to do good in the name of Christ.”

Sister Tamara Fortheringham, the Woodbridge Stake Relief Society president, said her heart “became so full” watching members of the Spanish-language wards and others freely give their time and energy. 

“Many lives were blessed because of this act of charity,” she said. 

Joel Martínez, president of Comite Hispano de Prince William and who played an important role in getting the word out and securing warehouse storage for the food, was impressed by the magnitude of the assistance and the way everyone served. 

“It was an honor to be involved,” said Martinez. “The system of the Church was strong, and I felt the love in the hearts of those who served.  

“It was a lot of work, but I believe we touched so many lives, and I know a lot of people benefited.”