A note from our Executive Director 

Welcome to the second issue of our quarterly newsletter! You are receiving this email because you opted in either via online shopping or a pop-up sale event. We thank you for being a subscriber!

We had some down time over the cold winter months and opened up shipping options for all of our merchandise - it's exciting to see our signs and merch ship out to various states. Send some love to your friends and family across the country - you can order online here.

To start the warm weather season off, we had a beautifully sunny pop-up at the Oakton UMC Spring Bazaar on May 6 - we loved seeing familiar faces and meeting new supporters. Our next pop-up is at Viva Vienna over Memorial Day weekend with a prime spot right on Church Street. We hope to see you there for all the street festival fun!

We also just appeared for the first time in Northern Virginia magazine. This beautiful magazine showcases our region's top arts, culture, businesses and personalities - and we are thrilled our mission was featured in the May issue! Read more about it below. We also recently got a visit from Fox5 DC's Gwen Tolbart. Exciting days!

We are so grateful for our amazing community's continuing support of our mission: To actively engage and bring the community together to help the food-insecure. With your help, we hope to continue to make a difference to kids and families in our community.

Michelle Connors

Founder & Executive Director

Media Highlight: Northern Virginia Magazine

Rustic Love is featured in the May issue of Northern Virginia Magazine! With a circulation of 150,000, this is wonderful exposure for our mission in a regional magazine!

A special highlight of the article is the interview of local teen volunteer Annabelle Hallworth. Annabelle is part of the Junior Volunteer League, whose group of philanthropic girls and moms volunteered with us last summer.

We're honored that our organization, mission and amazing town were featured in this fantastic magazine!

1st Quarter 2023 Special Highlight

A special donation was made to Cornerstones' "FREE from Hunger Center." This is a HUGE new space that is set to open this Fall with more than 1500 square feet of refrigeration and freezer space, plus dry good shelving areas. This space will be a game changer with the expectation to help ease food insecurity in our area by helping local schools and pantries more efficiently acquire healthy food options. We are incredibly excited for this space to open - our local school food pantries will truly benefit from this vital resource!

2023 Donations

So far this year, we have given five grants to assist with food-assistance programs: George C. Marshall High School, Annandale High School, Kilmer Middle School, Belong! and Cornerstones. Food pantries in our community are seeing increased demand from students and families due to various post-pandemic factors. We are proud to be able to continue helping hungry kids in our community. On average, each bag of groceries given out from a food pantry costs $45, so all of your donations matter!

1st Quarter 2023 Recipient Spotlight: 

Annandale High School Pantry

With one of the highest participation rates in the Free & Reduced Lunch Program in Fairfax County, this school's pantry plays a critical role in helping their students. At each distribution, between 100-300 families access the pantry, and food bags often include fresh items like eggs and milk.

This Pantry Team does so much to help their school community and we are thankful that the generosity towards the Rustic Love mission can help ease the fundraising burden on the pantry and help the families of their school community.

Media Highlight: Fox5 DC

Thank you to Gwen Tolbart of Fox5 DC for spending an afternoon with us and featuring our mission and impact in a series of news segments last week. What a great way for people all across the DMV to learn about our work and organization!

We also had part of our core team and some teen volunteers on-hand to be interviewed. They did such a great job! Thanks to everyone for their participation and support! 

Adult Volunteer Spotlight: 

Brian Stroud

Brian has volunteered with us since 2022, and as part of our Core Adult Volunteer team, he helps us with a variety of day-to-day tasks, including builds and pop-up sales. Brian was recently awarded a Mayor's Volunteer Award for his volunteer contributions with Rustic Love and Social Burger/The Lamb Center.

Brian, his family and neighbors have also donated to our mission through their dazzling holiday light display, the Oakton Park Court Lights. Be sure to visit next December! Thank you for everything you do for Rustic Love and our community, Brian!

Student Volunteer Spotlight: 

Nora Jaffee 

Nora volunteered with Rustic Love at multiple sign builds for her Bat Mitzvah service project. She was eager to help out because she loved the idea of helping food insecure individuals through building our colorful signs.

As a hopeful engineer, Nora really enjoyed participating in the build sessions. Her favorite part was seeing the amazing community we live in find this creative way to give back to those less fortunate.

We're lucky to count on dedicated teen volunteers who are genuinely interested in helping people in need - thank you, Nora!

1st Quarter Build Crew Spotlight: Core Crew from Rustic Love

Winter is our quiet time, with cold temperatures being a less-than-ideal setting for spray painting! Our long-awaited first build of the season unfortunately was cancelled at the last minute, so part of our Core Crew from Rustic Love quickly assembled to build, paint and get signs ready for our first pop-ups of the season! Thank you, Team!

Partner Spotlight: Mud Tree Designs

The lovely Kristy Schulenberg of Mud Tree Designs approached us two years ago, kindly offering to make heart mugs for us, and little did we know what a phenomenon these would become. Every time Kristy creates these hand-made pieces for us, they quickly sell out! These mugs are beautiful, functional, and truly unique, and a portion of the proceeds support our mission - we love this partnership! We will have a few on-hand at ViVa Vienna later this month. Come check out our inventory!

How can you help support our mission?

Each quarter, our Board of Directors reviews our grant schedule and determines the donations we make to our community. In 2022, our main focus was to research local school food pantries and assist them with grants to serve their students and families. Please consider making a financial donation to us via PayPal or credit card and shop our site anytime to get your own items with our trademarked open heart.

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