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Community Holiday Coalition Finds a Home

Leesburg, Virginia, September 7, 2005 – The Community Holiday Coalition's "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" program is gearing up for the tenth annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Stores. For the past nine years the Coalition helped 1000's of Loudoun families have a "brighter" holiday season. This year the Coalition faced major changes to the program because of the need for space.

"The Coalition was swamped with phone calls and emails about possible space locations," said Karen Velez, Program Coordinator, "and we are extremely grateful for the concern and support of the entire Loudoun community who contacted us. Again because of the generosity of Lerner Enterprises, the owner of Dulles Town Center, the Holiday Coalition has a home for the 2005 Holiday Programs."

As for the past three years, Lerner donated 20,000 square feet of office space, located off of Route 28 and Route 606 (Old Ox Road) at 45335 Vintage Park Plaza in Dulles. This is the same space provided to the Coalition for 2004 holiday programs.

"We are overjoyed to continue our partnership with them," Velez added, explaining that the store is successful because of the overwhelming community support. "It truly is a "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" effort, bringing hundreds of volunteers and donors together in a joint effort to help our friends and neighbors have a better holiday season."

The past year was spent trying to figure out how to change and streamline the program, especially because space was an on-going issue. Now that Lerner solved the location issue, volunteers can continue planning in earnest.

Distribution times for some items will change. "For example," Velez said, "the Thanksgiving store, not the December Holiday Store will distribute personal and household baskets to every family, in addition to food and gently used coats. During the Christmas distribution we will need grocery gift cards in the amount of $20-$25 each to give to families instead of food. Food still will be available to all families but in December, Loudoun Interfaith will help with that part of the distribution. We will continue to distribute new toys, clothing, fill stockings, and everything we have done in the past. Volunteers will be needed for both programs."

Tentative dates for the holiday programs are: Thanksgiving: November 12 through November 17th with actual distribution beginning November 15th and for the December Holiday: December 4th through December 16th. Donations will be received throughout the entire program, with actual distribution beginning December 9th.

"The store concept works very well. Families in need are extremely thankful to the community for helping them to have a "brighter" holiday. We are looking forward to our tenth year of seeing old friends, meeting new ones and helping those in need during the Holidays," said Susan-Jane Stack, Community Partnership Administrator for the Department of Social Services.

Families are determined eligible by income and can find applications after September 15th on our website or at Loudoun County Social Services, Loudoun Interfaith Relief and the Good Shepherd Thrift Store. Those wishing to participate as volunteers or donors can call the Holiday Hotline at 703-771-5718 for more information or visit our website at Loudoun.gov/dss/holiday.