WASHINGTON–Local Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) chapters teamed up with Armenian American groups and local activists to collect over 10,000 food items for community food banks across the U.S. during National Day of Service activities spearheaded by President Barack Obama.
The ANCA’s "Cans for the Cause" initiative was organized in honor of U.S. humanitarian assistance efforts for survivors of the Armenian Genocide from 1915-1923. American humanitarian assistance efforts to Armenian populations devastated in Turkey during the Hamidian massacres of 1895 and subsequently the Armenian Genocide of 1915 represented the first American Red Cross foreign humanitarian assistance campaign and was instrumental in saving countless lives.
"During the Armenian Genocide and in the aftermath of this terrible crime, Americans participated in an unprecedented humanitarian relief effort for the survivors of Ottoman Turkey’s brutal campaign of race extermination," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "As a community we owe a tremendous debt to the generosity of the American people and strive to honor this proud chapter in U.S. history by doing our part to feed the hungry and bring hope to those facing hardship both abroad and here on our own shores."
The ANCA campaign was spread out across 20 individual food drives in 12 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington, DC. These efforts were part of the wider Day of Service activities, which coincided with Martin Luther King Memorial Day (January 19) and the Presidential Inauguration (January 20th). Local food drives inspired contributions from people of all ethnicities and walks of life ‘s committed to ending hunger. The Burbank, California drive was supported by contributions from State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian and Burbank City Council candidate Garen Yegparian.
The National Day of Service, first initiated by Congress in 1994, honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King by transforming the federal holiday honoring Dr. King into a national day of community service grounded in his teachings of nonviolence and social justice. Highlighting and expanding that initiative, President Obama announced the "Renew America Together" initiative, which culminated in over 13,000 community service events around the country. Community efforts, including the ANCA Cans for the Cause initiative, were highlighted on the Renew America Together website.
Local food banks have highlighted the important role that community groups play in ending hunger in our neighborhoods. Capital Area Food Bank President and CEO Lynn Brantley noted that "The food bank is seeing record numbers of people seeking food assistance and we expect to see more with the collapsing economy. Food drives play a critical role in food bank operations and during these challenging times, support from groups like the Armenian National Committee of America helps us nourish those in need and shines a light on the issue of domestic hunger."
In the week leading up to the national Day of service, ANCA "Cans for the Cause" national coordinator Garo Manjikian provided local activists with an organizing "tool kit" for local community activists and groups, which outlined the steps for program success.
"Armenian American community response to the ANCA ‘Cans for the Cause’ campaign was amazing, with local ANC, Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian Relief Society chapters, groups like the Heros Foundation, and activists leading the charge in their cities across the U.S.," said Manjikian. "We have been encouraged by the daily updates, photos and supportive emails from Armenia’s and non-Armenia’s alike and look forward to building on this initiative in the future."
Visit the ANCA Facebook page and ANCA Website for updates and photos from local "Cans for the Cause" efforts. For commen’s, or to further highlight the "Cans for Cause" initiative in your area, contact national program coordinator Garo Manjikian at [email protected] or (202) 775-1918.