Facebook drives holiday donations

The Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee saw its holiday food drive donations more than double this year, going from helping 150 families in 2010 to providing help to about 350 families this year, organizers said.

They attributed a big part of the success to social media.

“Facebook helps,” Executive Director Elen Asatryan said Thursday night as the organization dispersed the donations.

The Armenian National Committee has led the food drive campaign the past five years in conjunction with other local organizations.

The group’s Facebook page has about 1,100 friends, almost twice as many as last year, Asatryan said, so reaching out to them directly was a big help. Committee members also posted information on the Facebook pages of other organizations to get the word out.

The social media campaign also helped make sure the organization collected the types of food needed throughout the drive.

For example, more than enough beans had been donated midway through the effort, but donations of canned fruit were lagging. So a list of food items that were still needed was posted on Facebook and, sure enough, donations started coming in for canned fruit and other missing items, Asatryan said.

The drive started collecting food in mid-November. While the deadline for donations was supposed to be Dec. 10, food items were still coming in this past Wednesday, the day before food was set to be distributed.

Asatryan said that, for the first time, the organization started receiving phone calls from individuals seeking help, although callers requested the assistance be kept secret, she added.

About 100 of the families who received food packages were referred by the Salvation Army, while others are local seniors who have no family or are referred by other Armenian organizations.

Volunteers distributing food Thursday afternoon said the joy of helping others is a big part of why they get involved.

Tamar Thomassian was an intern with the local Armenian National Committee three years ago and has been helping with the food drive ever since.

“Christmas is about more than getting,” she said. “It’s also about giving.”

Local teens also take part in the food drive each year, said Verginie Touloumian, chairwoman of the Armenian Youth Federation, which is a partner on the project.

Members of her group help pack up the food for distribution. Each family receives two bags of food — one filled with breakfast items, the other with food for lunch or dinner, she said.

Other organizations that participated in the food drive were the Glendale Youth Center, local chapters of the Armenian Cultural Foundation Juniors, Armenian Relief Society, Hamazkayin, Homenetmen and St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church.

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