NORFOLK, Va. — Residents living near the Family Dollar on Church Street said the destroyed store is a big loss for their community.
It's why the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore decided to bring residents back to the shopping center with boxes of free food.
“That’s the only store that I had to go to get in and out because I’m handicapped," resident Darlene Evans said. "Now, I have nowhere to go.”
For more than a week, Evans said she has struggled to find food after a fire destroyed the Family Dollar on Church Street.
But on Friday morning, food came to her and many of her neighbors.
“It made me feel good," she said. "It made me feel real good!”
"Just to see some of the people I haven't seen in a while to be out here...the love and the support," resident Helena Owens said.
The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore set up a food distribution site at the Church Street Crossing Shopping Center. Hundreds of boxes full of fresh food filled several trucks, cars and shopping carts.
Emma Inman, the chief impact officer with the foodbank, said volunteers have noticed an increased need at multiple food hubs in the area.
“We have a couple of other sites, food hubs in this community," she said. "One that is in Young Terrace, and one that is on Park Avenue. Those numbers of people who are coming to those sites for services has been ticking up.”
Roughly two dozen volunteers from Sentara Healthcare also wanted to pay it forward. Genemarie McGee, the health system’s chief nursing officer, said this is one way to connect with the community and understand how to better serve them.
“It’s really good for us to see them in their environment because we always see them in our environment,” she said.
And the help isn’t going unnoticed.
“I can make a whole lot of meals with what I got," Evans said. "I’m thankful for it.”
Foodbank organizers are now working to develop plans for future distribution sites in this community.