36,000 Pounds Of LOVE
Verona, VA

What happens when there is a huge need, a huge solution, but no way to bridge the gap? The answer: a community that makes a way where none is apparent. That's what happened in Verona, Virginia. The good heartedness of a small community was simply too big to ignore.

It all started with a Florida email from Palena Dorsey of Sanctuary Animal Refuge. She knew of a major manufacturer that wanted to give away a tractor trailer load of canned dog food; that's 36,000 pounds to be exact---- 18 pallets!

The problem? Shipping. What non-profit could afford thousands of dollars in shipping fees? But Palena wanted animal organizations to know that help was available, even if she could not directly benefit from it.

For The Mosby Foundation, Palena's offer was like a Rubic's cube. It was a tremendous offer, a tremendous opportunity to reach out and help needy families struggling to keep their pets. It would also help several rescue organizations challenged with feeding their animals. But the foundation didn't have thousands of dollars to pay for shipping.

Still, we just kept thinking, but it's 36,000 pounds of canned dog food! What could we do? That's when John Adams, Mosby Foundation Board Member, got the notion of calling Hunter Fauber, founder and Executive Director of the Verona Community Food Pantry.

Mr. Fauber recommended that John contact Mike Eller, the commercial driving license instructor with Blue Ridge Community College in nearby Weyers Cave. He had worked with Eller's program in the past with good success.

John called and told Mike the problem. "I asked him how much would he charge us to go pick up the dog food. I was flabbergasted at his response." And it's no wonder. Mike offered to have one of his students and an instructor drive to Pennsylvania to pick up the dog food-for FREE.

l to r, Mike Eller, Jennifer Kirkland, Randie Rusmisel and Hunter Fauber

After John recovered, Mike explained that The Mosby Foundation's timing was perfect. "To graduate from the CDL course, students must take a training trip around Virginia as part of their coursework." Eller explained. "Right now, I have a student who is finishing up the course. The trip to Pennsylvania could be the training trip."

The student was Randie Rusmisel, a young woman whose husband is an established truck driver. And she didn't have to think twice about the opportunity. Randie was absolutely thrilled to have a real life experience, one that she could add to her skillset.

Randie and her instructor, Mike Eller, headed off to Pennsylvania very early on a Wednesday morning. "The company was wonderful," Randie said. "They knew exactly why we were there, loaded us right up and we were off again!"

When Randie and Mike arrived at the Verona Food Pantry at 10 a.m. that Wednesday morning, they found another group anxiously awaiting their arrival. As Randie expertly backed the tractor trailer up to the loading dock, the small group of people gathered close. There were big broad smiles skipping like stones on a stream, bouncing from person to person until the band of volunteers broke into applause.

There it was right in front of them, a testament to community effort and a sight for sore eyes. In 30 minutes, the Verona Community Food Pantry unloaded the contents of the tractor trailer--36,000 pounds of canned dog food. Just think of it!

It was the largest donation ever received by the pantry, and certainly the largest for The Mosby Foundation. The timing simply couldn't have been better with the need for food assistance ever growing in our community.

The brainchild of Hunter Fauber, the Verona Food Pantry, gives away food to families living below the poverty line. The pantry has been on the mission to help others in the community for 20 years. A quiet, unassuming man, you can find Mr. Fauber driving heavy equipment and working diligently with the staff.

"I had reached my goals in life and wanted to give back." Mr. Fauber told us. "I thought the food pantry was a good way to reach out to the community. I started it from my basement." He paused. "I never thought it would come to something like this."

With 28 churches committed to the cause, the food pantry has fundraisers, yard sales, and bingo to fund their work. They even wait tables once a year at a local restaurant to help raise money to keep the food pantry open. National food chains like Food Lion, Martin's, Wal-Mart, and Whole Foods all contribute to one man's vision for a healthier community.

The pantry is open four days a week for several hours at a stretch. "The first two weeks of the month, we get over 200 families each day that come to the Food Pantry asking for food," James Bell, Production Director, said. By the middle of the month, the flow of need is between 138-145 families with eight to fifteen new families appearing daily.

"This has been a great thing to have The Mosby Foundation food," he went on to say." We won't have any trouble distributing it." With 700 pounds of dog food and 350 pounds of cat food requested each time families arrive at the pantry, it's apparent how much families want to keep their pets.

Like a beautiful tapestry, the threads of caring and generosity were woven together to create a captivating picture of human compassion. A major manufacturer of pet food reached out to donate 36,000 pounds of dog food. Palena Dorsey in Florida generously alerted The Mosby Foundation to the opportunity. Carole Adams asked her husband, John, to help figure out a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. John Adams was then determined to find that solution, which appeared in the form of Mike Eller and his student, Randie Rusmisel. Without their huge donation of resources and time the dog food couldn't have gotten to our community. And without Hunter Fauber's longstanding vision and the commitment of all the volunteers who keep the Verona Community Food Pantry going, this story would not have been written.

The hero? One solid community on a mission to lighten the load of struggling families, people young and old who look into the eyes of their pets, grateful for another day to have them close by their side.