Reese Finnell '22 and Robbie Lee '22 were among 40 student leaders in the D.C. area who received President's Volunteer Service Awards for their work with Families4Families, a non-profit organization that combats food insecurity.
Since August 2020, students around the country have collected groceries and other essentials for families in need. Families4Families began with one family in Washington, D.C. in response to the growing numbers of families going hungry during the pandemic. More than 25 student-led clubs, including Landon's, have collected items for distribution. The students also received Community Heroes awards at Jubilee Jumpstart's (a non-profit partner) annual Heroes Ball.
In this Q&A, Reese and Robbie explain how they got started with Families4Families, and what they hope to accomplish in the coming year.
You recently received awards for your leadership as co-presidents of the Landon Families4families club—the President's Volunteer Service Award and Jubilee Jumpstart’s Community Hero Award. Congratulations! Tell us about Families4Families.
Reese: It’s a national organization that pairs student-led clubs with partner groups to deliver groceries, toiletries, and other items to families in need. Each month we organize and collect donations from Landon families and bring them to Jubilee Jumpstart in Adams Morgan, which distributes the donations to local families.
Robbie: Jubilee Jumpstart is an early education organization in D.C., and we also partner with Alice Deal Middle School to support their families. We deliver about three carloads of donations each month to Jubilee Jumpstart, about one week’s worth of food for more than 43 families.
When did you start the club?
Robbie: Last spring and summer, when the pandemic was at its height, we heard about the organization and how important it was especially during the pandemic when lots of families did not have the food they needed. We started the club along with Charlie Alberino '22, who is the vice-president.
What kinds of items do you collect to donate?
Reese: Along with groceries, we also collect toiletries, paper goods, and other common items that families need. During the holidays, like Thanksgiving, we ask for special items for the families to enjoy and celebrate. On Halloween, we collected candy for the kids.
What are your plans for the coming year?
Robbie: We plan to continue the regular collections at the end of each month. We also want to work on getting more people to donate and showing everyone the value of their contributions and how helpful it is to the families we support.
Reese: Once schoolwide assemblies resume—hopefully when we’re back at school—that would be a good time to share the story and let all the students know what we’re doing and the help we’re providing.
When you’re not working on Families4Families, what other activities are you involved in?
Reese: I started playing water polo in my freshman year, and this year will be the captain of the team. I also play basketball.
Robbie: I’m playing baseball this summer, and during school I also play football and basketball, along with spring baseball.
The President's Volunteer Service Award was founded in 2003 to recognize the important role of volunteers in our country. The awards are presented to individuals who are "using their time and talents to solve some of the toughest challenges facing the nation."