Three employees at the Library of Congress are responsible for giving about 50 families a year a cheery Christmas for the past 17 years.
Marvin Reed, Gregory Smith and Windell Curtis, who are police officers at the Library of Congress, started collecting toys and food from their co-workers in 1987.
“I though about it and I thought we needed to do something to contribute to the community,” Reed said.
So with the permission of the Library of Congress, Curtis, Smith and Reed began collecting food, toys and money. That year, they made donations to a local church
and a shelter for homeless women.
The project “snowballed” from there, he said.
By the second year, they received enough donations to deliver packages of food and toys to 30 families in need.
The men get names of families who could use help from other employees at the Library of Congress. Then they contact the families, some of whom do not have a telephone, to offer them a box of food and toys for the holidays.
Without any advertising of their food and toy drive, the three men are able to collect enough items to provide a package for about 50 families.
“There’s just a sign in the Library and the knowledge of the employees,” Reed said.
All of the organizations within the Library of Congress donate money, which is used to buy turkeys and chickens. The turkey or chicken and other nonperishable food items are divided among the families.
“We give each family a Christmas dinner,” Reed said.
“It just makes you feel so good that you helped somebody that can’t help themselves,” Smith said. “People who have nothing to look forward to for Christmas, especially kids, not even a meal.”
Nonperishable food, used toys in good condition and new toys are collected in a box at the front door of the Library of Congress from Nov. 23 to Dec. 23.
Curtis, Smith and Reed then separate the items for each family. They deliver the boxes themselves on Dec. 23.
“It’s part of Christmas for me,” Smith said. “I look forward to it every year.”
The status of the economy does affect the amount of contributions they receive. For example, in 2001, they did not receive as many donations as usual, but last year they did very well, Smith said.
Although it is too early to tell how successful this year’s drive will be, they expect the days following the next pay day to be an indicator of how many donations they will receive.
For more information, contact Marvin Reed at the Library of Congress at (202) 707-1000.