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Herman TolliverThe operators of the county’s food pantry have extended a challenge to Fluvanna residents.

If everyone in the county gives $1, the food pantry can move into its new digs and launch operations that will better serve Fluvanna’s hungry.

Fluvanna Christian Service Society (FCSS), which operates the food pantry, hopes that local churches will take up “love offerings,” or special collections, as part of the challenge.

FCSS needs $35,000 for its new setup. Counted toward that goal is $11,520 that Fluvanna County will pay to acquire one of its buildings.

That leaves $23,480. FCSS hopes that each of the 26,000 residents of Fluvanna will throw in a buck to help out their neighbors.

The food pantry needs to move. Currently FCSS owns two small buildings in the Carysbrook complex and uses space inside a county public works building to house some of its operations. But the arrangement has become inadequate for both FCSS and public works.

FCSS is selling a stick-built building to the county and moving a second shed-like building about 200 feet, from behind the social services building to behind the Carysbook gym. The organization also hopes to purchase two new shed-like buildings.

The cost of the move, including the new buildings, wiring, insulation and other needs, totals $35,000.

Included in that figure is the cost of a new industrial-size refrigerator and industrial-size freezer. “We have eight or 10 refrigerators that have been donated. They go on the fritz,” said FCSS member Susan Hughes.

Because FCSS pays its own electric bill, the cost can be enormous. FCSS hopes to save money and boost reliability with the two new appliances.

FCSS has sent out letters seeking support to all the area churches on its list. But FCSS member Margo Freimuth cautioned that the list may be out of date, and urged any local church that did not receive a letter to contact them.

Though money is the greatest need facing the food pantry right now, Hughes said volunteers could make a big difference.

“We’re all gray-haired,” she joked about her fellow FCSS members. “If anybody would like to volunteer their time to help install insulation, light fixtures or shelves, or help paint, we would certainly appreciate that.”

About FCSS

Fluvanna residents seeking aid first visit Bertha Armstrong at the Monticello Area Community Action Agency (MACAA) office in the Carysbrook complex. She determines their need then sends them to Herman Tolliver, a dedicated food pantry volunteer, said Hughes. Referrals also come from social services. The amount of food clients leave with depends on the number of people in their family.

“They get soups, pancake mixes, syrup, potatoes, hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, canned meats,” said Hughes. “Just about anything you can get at the grocery store you can get at the food pantry. They try and give enough food for at least a week. If they have 10 kids in the family they’ll have a lot of bags.”

At Thanksgiving and Christmas FCSS tries to give a turkey, dressing and all the fixings to every family of whom it has a record. Armstrong gave out 30 or 40 Easter baskets to needy children last year.
FCSS also gives money in crisis situations toward rent, mortgage payments, utility bills and medical expenses.

In addition to meeting families’ ongoing needs, FCSS puts on a yearly holiday event called Happy Face. Held the first Saturday in December in the cafeteria of Central Elementary School, the event provides gifts to needy children.

Throughout the year, FCSS and various churches and businesses collect donations of new toys. Then when Happy Face rolls around, “the kids get stuffed animals, a big gift, books and games,” said Hughes. “Then they have a drawing for some of the big gifts, like bicycles. Then each child is given a voucher for $20.”

The children can spend their vouchers on gifts of their choice purchased from a local pharmacy and dollar store. Last year Happy Face gave vouchers to 220 excited children.
“It’s so neat to watch the kids at Happy Face,” said Freimuth.

“Santa comes and we have a party,” said Hughes. “The Knights of Columbus hand out new coats. About three or four years ago, the women from the prison donated gloves.”

FCSS also gives a $500 scholarship each year to a deserving high school student. The scholarship is based on service, though Hughes noted all applicants have been “top” students.

“One winner drove to Charlottesville every Sunday to pick up someone who had been going to his church, but had to move into a nursing home,” Hughes said. “He picked her up every Sunday so she could continue to attend church.”

By the numbers

Donors play a huge role in keeping the food pantry going. In July the food pantry received 166 donations of nonperishables, meat, produce and baked goods from area churches and individuals. The top donator was Food Lion, which donated every day of the month but one.

In 2016 FCSS served 1,104 Fluvanna households, or 2,631 people. Of those, 606 were age 18 or younger, 1,256 were between the ages of 19 and 64, and 660 were 65 or older.
There were four volunteers for the food pantry last year.

FCSS is 100 percent donation-funded. Its total income in 2016 was $35,042. Local churches contributed $11,048 of that amount.

The cost of services in 2016 was $28,976. Of that, $2,085 went to pay mortgages, $6,611 paid rent, $7,070 went toward electric bills, and $3,891 financed other utilities. Happy Face expenses totaled $5,964.

Operating expenses came to $3,858 in 2016. FCSS utility bills totaled $3,134, insurance came to $389, printing cost $122, and office supplies totaled $95.

FCSS ended 2016 with a net income of $2,208.

The goal

“We can’t order the buildings until we have the money,” said Hughes, joking that the organization needed the money “yesterday.”

FCSS hopes the $35,000 will be in place by Sept. 10. This will allow them ample time to set up shop before the Happy Face rush kicks in.

Fluvanna residents feeling the pull to help their disadvantaged neighbors may notate their checks for the building fund and mail them to FCSS, P.O. Box 411, Palmyra, Va., 22963.

For more information contact Susan Hughes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Margo Freimuth at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .