By Bruce Ingram
Photos by Bruce Ingram
Sometime this fall, Virginia’s Hunters for the Hungry (HFTH) will very likely distribute its 30 millionth serving of venison (1/4 pound equals a serving) in the organization’s 30 years of service. Director Gary Arrington, who has served HFTH in various roles since coming aboard in 2004, marvels at the accomplishment and expects, in fact, to go well past that benchmark.
“As a hunter and a former Conservation Police Officer for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), I’m used to seeing the good and bad in the hunting community,” he said. “But there’s no question that Hunters for the Hungry has been the proverbial feather in the cap for the hunting community since we came into existence.
“Hunters have a tradition of sharing their harvest with the less fortunate, and sharing high protein, low fat, organic venison meals with folks who are struggling is an excellent example of that charity. Our late founder, David Horne, had a vision that one day our organization would annually share 200,000 pounds of venison. It’s safe to say we have the potential to surpass that every year now,” said Arrington.
However, Arrington emphasizes that HFTH is not just looking back at its past successes, but is eagerly striving to help the needy even more in the future.
“One of our more exciting initiatives has been to reach out to organizations not usually associated with hunting,” he says. “For example, we recently received a $30,000 dollar check from the Roanoke Women’s Foundation, a philanthropic group that’s mostly known for supporting the arts, culture, and education.
“We did a Zoom-type presentation to the group and that enabled us to communicate with members that normally might not have attended an in-person meeting. I feel this effort provided them insight about our mission. We’ve also been successfully working more and more with groups such as the Rotary, Lions, and Ruritans.”
Arrington adds that one of the major challenges in recent years has been the decline in meat processors, especially in many rural areas. These folks, he says, have been retiring from their longtime vocation. The solution?
“Thanks to grants and donations, we’ve increased our number of mobile ice boxes to over 20,” he said. “In some areas now, we can place an ice box in an area where a processor doesn’t exist. A longtime goal of Hunters for the Hungry has been to keep venison in the same area it was donated. That way hunters who donate their deer know that their meat goes to feed folks in their local area.”
How can sportsmen and the general public support Virginia’s Hunters for the Hungry to be an even more effective charity?
“Keep sending us your deer and your dollars,” Arrington says. “We’ll put them to good use and continue to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
For more information: www.h4hungry.org, 800-352-4868.