Norfolk District member’s tidiness sparks donation-transport mission

USACE Norfolk District Public Affairs
Published Jan. 25, 2019

FORT NORFOLK, Va. -- What started with a can of buttercream cake frosting led to a nearly 500-pound donation headed for a local food bank.

Last week, Rachel Haug, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District senior planner, was harkening her inner Marie Kondo and motivated for a clutter-free 2019. While cleaning out her pantry, she realized her chore could be more than tidiness – it could be an act of kindness.

“It’s been on the news that people, especially in this area, are going through a rough time and food banks are having a difficult time keeping up with the need,” Hague said. “I saw all these boxes that I was just going to drive to the food bank myself and I thought, ‘Well, maybe others would like for me to take in stuff for them.’”

After deciding that organizing her cupboards could help meet that need, and others might be interested in doing the same – she turned to Greg Steele, Norfolk District Water Resources Division chief, with an idea.

“Rachel came up to me and was telling me that she wanted to donate extra food items she had to the food bank,” Steele said. “And she asked if it was OK to see if anyone else wanted her to drop items off for them.”

And district employees took her up on the offer during a critical time for many in this region.

Area food banks have been stretched to meet the needs of many.

A recent Washington Post report stated the Capital Area Food Bank — an organization that has long served the Washington region’s needy — has set up pop-up markets for workers affected by current, sudden unemployment.

Capital Area Food Bank President and Chief Executive Radha Muthiah told the paper, it will be difficult to provide provisions through mid-February.

But both Haug and Steele noted they are transporting items for not only recently-unemployed, but all who could use a helping hand.

“The USACE motto is ‘Essayons,’ meaning, ‘Let us try,’” Steele said. “This is our challenge – while not our formal challenge – but one we’re facing in an area where our neighbors need help. So let us try.”