A Simple Gesture Delivered 100 Tons of Food Since Inception!

Over 15,000 Pounds of Food Collected!

Thanks go to the more than 870 wonderful Simple Gesture donors who placed their cool, green bags out on Saturday. Through your generosity we delivered 15,775 pounds of food to the four area pantries that we are supporting. This helped us to set another record. Our 48 drivers and 26 food sorting volunteers did a splendid job. This collection brings the total of food collected since our start to 200,000 pounds!
A special thank you goes to the four volunteers who make A Simple Gesture work so well:
  • Rachel Freytag – Volunteer Coordinator
  • Allison Rettman – Database Manager
  • Karen Peterson – Route Manager
  • Tiffany Diehl – Route Manager
Thank you to all of the members and the families of Brownie Troop 6006 for signing up to be donors.
Another thank you goes to Rebecca Rankin and Anita Molnar for organizing a food collection for us at GMAC. They also provided many bags of toiletry items to the South Lakes High School Food Pantry using funds provided by GMAC.
You can read a wonderful article about A Simple Gesture which appears in the most recent edition of the Around Reston Magazine. It can be found on page 64 here. This is a good time to share it with a friend or neighbor and have them sign-up on our website at www.CoolGreenBag.org.

You collected 12,800 pounds of food on Saturday!

Even in the doldrums of the summer, 700 generous donors in the Cool, Green Bag Brigade provided almost 13,000 pounds of food and toiletries on Saturday. Thanks go to the 47 drivers and their assistants, plus the 27 volunteers who unloaded and sorted the food at the pantries. This month I would like to recognize all of the drivers, who are listed below.

An extra big thank you goes to Bob Park who organized the Shouse Village Swim Team to collect 300 pounds of food for A Simple Gesture. You can see a great article about it in the Reston Connection at:

These are the 47 wonderful drivers who drove this week:

Michelle Amsbary
Greg Becker
Deb Carstoiu
Jacqueline Cooperman
Celia Dallas
Lilyan Dickerson
Tom Drake
John and Christina Duffy
Francine Freedman
Kte Finkelstein
Alexandra Frith
Amy Fujii
Bethany Gebauer
Sue Granlund
Allan Hoffman
Janna Kirr
Barb Kline
Shashi Kuppa
Tom Lenke
Art Light
Katie Luce
Becky Marsh
Kathy Matay
Carter McGowan
Maura McKnight
Steve McNally
Dan Moldover
Anne Morton
Joy Myers
Vickie Nitschke
Diane Norman
Marsha Peters
Karen Peterson
Kristin Piazza
Margo Pryzby
Roz Rakoff
Nanette Relave
Jacob Rosenblum
Len Rosenblum
Sheila Sandford
Don Schaefer
Sharon Stettner
Chris Temple
Winslow and Brad Wacker
Nicole Wigen
Tom and Jody Wolfe
Gary Wortman

A Simple Gesture can send you a text message the day before and you can reply to let us know if you will not be able to place a bag out. To enroll, just reply to this email and send us your cellphone number. It’s okay to skip a pickup, but each household that doesn’t let us know in advance impacts our volunteer drivers’ efforts.

Please remember, the next pick-up is on Saturday October 6.

Your generosity was demonstrated on Saturday with the bags overflowing with food and supplies. Keep up the great work!

Giving Back with A Simple Gesture

This article appeared in the Reston Connection on Wednesday August 8, 2018

Reston — The Shouse Village swim team closet houses all kinds of items, from folded-up bed sheets with spray-painted team slogans to large canopies that provide shade for the swimmers. This summer, the closet also became a storage location for more than 300 pounds of canned goods.

“There is a giant box in the closet that is more than two grown men can pick up right now,” team spirit leader Melissa Carey said.

Saturday, Carey announced the donation total at the swim team end-of-season banquet. Due to the generosity of Shouse families and that of visiting teams, this Vienna team helped stock the shelves of food pantries through A Simple Gesture.

The Shouse Village swim team collected more than 300 pounds of food donations for A Simple Gesture, Reston.

In June 2015, Reston resident Bob Schnapp started A Simple Gesture locally after he came across an article about the nonprofit in California. He began with about 20 members of his congregation, Shoreshim, then expanded by word of mouth to friends and neighbors. The nonprofit seeks to make it simple for local donors to provide food for people in Reston, Herndon and surrounding areas.

“They’re our neighbors. We’ve got extra resources, why can’t we help them?” Schnapp said. “Somebody said to me, ‘Well, people here are very generous, all you have to do is make it easy.’ And this makes it easy.”

The first step to becoming a donor is signing up online on coolgreenbag.org. Donors will then receive a cool, green bag, fill the bag with nonperishable foods and leave it outside their house on designated collection days every two months. Volunteer drivers from A Simple Gesture pick up the donations, leave new green bags for the donors and bring the contributions to various local food pantries.

“It’s striking that in this part of the county, where people seem to have so much, we still have hunger,” A Simple Gesture volunteer Bob Park said. “There’s a simple way to help ease that problem.”

While food pantries receive a lot of donations during the holiday season, contributions tend to go down at this time of year. A good thing about A Simple Gesture, Schnapp said, is that it addresses this lull in donations by providing “a steady stream of food all year round.”

Schnapp said he has found people to be very passionate about alleviating hunger. Now, 900 local donors are signed up with A Simple Gesture in Reston, and since the nonprofit’s start, this community has collected 80 tons of donations. Schnapp said the residents of Reston want to help people who need it.

“A little-known fact is that everybody else in Fairfax County fought having the Embry Rucker shelter in their area. Reston asked for it,” Schnapp said. “And that’s the kind of people that live here.”

We’ve collected over 100,000 pounds of food since June 2015!!

As remarkable as it may seem, you have contributed to “A Simple Gesture” delivering over 100,000 pounds of food since its inception just 2-1/2 years ago. Saturday’s haul came from over 600 donors and brought in over 12,000 pounds of food. As you see, filling your single bag six times a year does make a difference.

On Saturday, we had 48 drivers and their assistants and 13 pantry volunteer workers. We offer a big thank you to all of them.

If you would like a reminder text message the day before the pick-up, just reply to this email along with your cellphone number.

Talk to your friends and neighbors, or put a short note into your neighborhood newsletter to tell them about A Simple Gesture. By having more donors within the same neighborhood, our drivers can be more efficient. Those who are interested can visit our website at www.CoolGreenBag.org and automatically sign-up. When they do, we will deliver a cool, green bag directly to their house.

Your generosity is truly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

“A Simple Gesture” has collected over 60,000 pounds of food since June 2015!!

Even though Saturday was April Fool’s Day, the Cool, Green Bag Brigade delivered over 11,000 pounds of food to the Cornerstone’s Reston Pantry and LINK’s Pantry in Herndon.

Over the life of the program we have provided 62,798 pounds. That’s more than 31 tons! Not bad for a project that started in June 2015 with just 20 donors and now has a donor base of over 600.

It’s because of people like you that we can do this. If you have a few hours to help, you can volunteer too. We need people to drive, sort food, sign up more donors and help with administrative tasks on a periodic basis. If you are interested, just drop me an email at Bob@CoolGreenBag.org.

Some of the bags this time went to the St. Anne’s Episcopal Church pantry, who has joined us as a partner by signing up 90 new donors last month. We are also experimenting with supplying the new South Lakes High School food pantry. Roberta Gosling took the initiative to help students who need food over the weekends and this is an effort to see if A Simple Gesture can help them.

On Saturday, there were 38 drivers and 17 pantry volunteer workers. Special thanks go to Mary Beth DiVincenzo and Sue Granlund for preparing 500 new cool, green bags for distribution and to Gail Greenberg, Judy Bleiweis and Debby Greenberg who signed up 24 new donors at Congregation Beth Emeth on Sunday. We offer a big thank you to all of them.

Just to let you know, I am a finalist for “The Best of Reston” for my work with A Simple Gesture. We will find out on Thursday night if I win. Keep your fingers crossed.

A Simple Gesture can expand further when you let your friends and neighbors know about us. By having more donors within the same neighborhood, our drivers can be more efficient. Those who are interested can visit our website at www.CoolGreenBag.org and automatically sign-up. When they do, we will deliver a cool, green bag directly to their house.

Your generosity is truly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

Bob Schnapp

Cornerstones Facebook Announcement for The Best of Reston

Today’s finalist in the Individual or Family Service category of the 2017 Cornerstones of Our Community – Best of Reston Awards is Bob Schnapp!

Feeding People with a Simple Gesture and a Cool Green Bag –

Bob Schnapp is living proof that one simple and easy good idea can change lives for the better. After learning about “A Simple Gesture” in 2014, he approached his congregation – Shoreshim of Reston – about starting an effort in Reston. Participants get a “cool, green bag” to fill up every other month with non-perishable food items and leave on the doorstep for a volunteer to pick up and take to the Cornerstones food pantry.

Bob’s efforts began modestly with 20 families and about 400 pounds of food collected on the first run. Since its inception it has grown to include more than 420 donor families, giving over 10,000 pounds of food picked up by 34 drivers and unloaded with the help of 14 food pantry volunteers.

Bob is proof positive that one person, armed with one generous idea and passion can change the world.

The Cornerstones of Our Community – Best of Reston Awards are presented in partnership by Cornerstones and Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce.

You’re Invited! Click here to reserve your seat for the April 6th Awards Gala https://www.cornerstonesva.org/BOR. Check out sponsorship opportunities too!

Thank you to our Presenting Sponsors: Bechtel Corporation and Reston Community Center, and our Leadership Sponsors: Boston Properties (Reston Town Center) and MAXIMUS Foundation!

#BestofReston #HopeforTomorrowToday

Bob Schnapp Named “Best of Reston” Finalist

Cornerstones of Our Community — Best of Reston Finalists Announced

On Feb. 9, Leidos hosted a Sneak-Peek Reception where 22 finalists were announced as candidates for the Cornerstones of Our Community – 2017 Best of Reston Awards. These people, businesses and organizations were selected from among a pool of nominations, and the chosen honorees will be revealed at the April 6 Awards Gala.

The Cornerstones of Our Community – Best of Reston Awards annual gala and networking event, now in its 26th year, is a partnership between the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Cornerstones, honoring those who have demonstrated significant contributions to the greater Reston/Dulles Corridor region through their philanthropy and volunteerism. Proceeds from the celebration benefit the programs and people served by Cornerstones. Sponsorship information for this year’s April 6 Awards Gala can be found at www.cornerstonesva.org/BOR.

One or two 2017 Best of Reston honorees could be selected in each of the following categories and will be announced at the April 6 Gala:

Individual or Family Service Category: The finalists in this category have given selflessly of their time for the causes about which they are passionate, and in so doing make the community stronger. Their volunteer service has spanned decades of service in encouraging children and youth, nurturing them and giving them the confidence and opportunity to grow and pursue their dreams. These candidates have tackled tough challenges such as childhood obesity, hunger and homelessness, and are mentoring adults who want to build their skills and find meaningful work to support their families and community. Their service has enriched the community through the arts and in creating and sustaining natural spaces, and lending their talents to plan for Reston’s future. Through their active civic and community participation they have extended a welcoming hand to immigrants in the spirit of inclusiveness on which this community was founded.

Finalists include: Robert Goudie, Vernon and Kathy Joyner, Bill Keefe, Shreya Papneja, Maggie Parker, Bob Schnapp, Vincent and Gillian Sescoe and Herb Williams-Baffoe.

Civic and Community Engagement, Volunteerism through Nonprofit Service Category: The finalists in this category engage the community by turning beliefs into action, promoting the common good and creating impact in ways that many may not realize. These finalists have touched the lives of individuals and families, empowered children and youth, enriched and beautified our community through celebration of the arts, the joy of giving, and engaging the next generation of leaders.

Finalists include: Herndon Community Leo Club Youth, Omicron Kappa Kappa, The Reston Chorale, Touching Heart, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Women Giving Back.

Large Business, Employee Owned and Small Business Category: The achievements of the business finalists include strengthening advocacy for health and human services, education, veterans and their families, schools, children and future leaders. By partnering with the schools they bring resources to enrich children’s academic experience and open their eyes to new possibilities for the future. The struggles of working families in the community are personal to them, and they have championed causes that address hunger, ensure safety, and create avenues of support for those with differing abilities. Their contributions are building a strong, sustainable community for all.

Large Business category finalists include: JK Moving Services, Navient, Odin, Feldman, and Pittleman, P.C., SOSi.

Employee Owned and Small Business category finalists include: SpeedPro Imaging Northern Virginia, Storycatcher Productions, Synergy Design & Construction, and The CST Group.

At the Sneak- Peek Reception, Leidos announced that it is expanding its commitment to Cornerstones, to Reston and to the greater Dulles Corridor by partnering with Cornerstones as the first Annual Champion Partner. Melissa Koskovich, senior vice president, and director of marketing and communications for Leidos presented Cornerstones with a check of $100,000.

Cornerstones has reached out to 250,000 neighbors in need, helping them overcome tough economic times in an already high cost-of-living region. For more information, visit www.cornerstonesva.org or call 571-323-9555.

Since 1982, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for business growth and entrepreneurship by providing quality programs, education, connections and advocacy for its 650 members and organizations in Western Fairfax and the Dulles Corridor. Learn more at www.RestonChamber.org or call 703-707-9045.

Published in The Connection February 14, 2017

“A Simple Gesture” Hits 50,000 Pounds!!

The Cool, Green Bag Brigade has come through again. For the first time, more than 420 donors filled their cool, green bags with over 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food. All of the food was delivered to Cornerstone’s Reston Pantry and LINK’s Pantry in Herndon.

Over the life of the program we have provided 51,363 pounds. That’s more than 25 tons! Not bad for a project that started in June 2015 with just 20 donors.

On Saturday, there were 34 drivers and 14 pantry volunteer workers.

A Simple Gesture can expand further when you let your friends and neighbors know about us. By having more donors within the same neighborhood, our drivers can be more efficient. Those who are interested can visit our website at www.CoolGreenBag.org and automatically sign-up. When they do, we will deliver a cool, green bag directly to their house.

Have a few hours to help? You can volunteer. We need people to drive, sort food, sign up more donors and help with administrative tasks on a periodic basis. If you are interested, just drop me an email.

Your generosity is truly appreciated. Keep up the good work!

Bob Schnapp

The Reston Connection Publishes Article on “A Simple Gesture”

‘A Simple Gesture’ Goes a Long Way To Fight Hunger

By Fallon Forbush

People throughout Northern Virginia are signing up to be a part of the “cool, green bag” movement.

Bob Schnapp was inspired in November 2014 when he read an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal about Jonathan Trivers and his charity in Paradise, Calif. Trivers’ charity, A Simple Gesture, provided 500,000 pounds of free groceries to local food pantries in three years by asking people to fill cool, green bags with nonperishable food items.

“The beauty of this is that it keeps the pantries stocked throughout the year and not just during the holidays.” —Diana Katz, a spokesperson, Giving Circle of HOPE

”I wanted to do something about hunger because the numbers are staggering,” says Schnapp, a 40-year resident of Reston.

After calling Trivers and getting advice, Schnapp created A Simple Gesture, Reston in June 2015, which donates food to the LINK food pantry in Herndon and the Cornerstones food pantry in Reston

He started by recruiting 20 families within his Jewish congregation to participate at the Shoreshim in Reston. The congregation agreed to buy 250 cool, green bags.

It grew from there.

“The idea is to make giving as simple as possible,” Schnapp says. “All they have to do, outside of buying the food, is literally placing the bag outside of their door at 8:30 in the morning the first Saturday of every other month. That’s all the work they have to do.”

THE GROUP has 32 drivers who volunteer to pick up the bags and deliver them to the food pantries.

By word of mouth, more and more people signed up.

Now in December, there are 400 participants who fill their bags. This month alone, they collected 9,380 pounds of nonperishable food items.

Since the last collection day on Dec. 3, more than 30 new people have already signed up to join in.

“There are 35 cities across the country that are doing this,” says Schnapp. None of the groups are affiliated, but they are all using the same logo: “A Simple Gesture.”

Catherine Hudgins, who represents the Hunter Mill District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, is on board.

“That sounds easy,” Hudgins says. “I can put my bag outside the door.”

She was not surprised that the community found a way to help neighbors in need.

“Cornerstones empties quickly,” she says. “It really makes a difference.”

In total, 41,138 pounds of nonperishable food items have been donated through the cool, green bags since the group started.

There has been so much interest that Schnapp asked the Giving Circle of HOPE for help.

A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money to a pooled fund and decide together which charities receive grants.

“We found that it was such a simple, no-brainer kind of thing to make people give food,” says Diana Katz, who is a spokesperson of the Giving Circle of HOPE.

Katz also volunteers to drive to pick up bags on collection days to deliver to the Cornerstones food pantry.

Katz’s organization could not provide funding, but she was able to connect Schnapp to another donor who was willing to help.

Now there are more bags and more room to grow.

“The beauty of this is that it keeps the pantries stocked throughout the year and not just during the holidays,” Katz says.

THOSE WHO WANT to get involved by filling bags, driving routes or sorting food can sign up by going to www.coolgreenbag.org. Those who sign up will have a bag delivered to their house and will receive a reminder email when the pick-up date is near. A food list of suggested donations is also printed on a tag of all the bags.

The U.S. Tennis Association, located in Isaac Newton Square, fills 20 bags every two months and delivers them to the Cornerstone’s Reston Pantry. Other businesses can participate by emailing Schnapp at Bob@CoolGreenBag.org.

Published December 14, 2016