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The Great Harvest Bread Co. was able to donate fresh bread through donations.

The owners of a bakery in Fairfax County can’t believe what has happened over the past year.

Due to food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic, Great Harvest Bread Co. was hoping to donate up to 5,000 loaves of bread to local food banks and shelters, but the business stepped up its game in an unbelievable way.

It has donated more than 20,000 loaves of bread.

“It’s just incredible,” owner Jeffrey Connelly said. “We’ve donated to about 40 or 50 food banks and shelters. We never knew it would be that much.”

Since the pandemic started last year, the company has been asking the public to donate cash to the business so it can donate loaves of bread to people in need.

For every $5 the business gets, it is able to make and donate one loaf of bread.

If someone donates $100, the business throws in an extra five loaves of bread for a total of 25 loaves.

“We get donations every week — sometimes three or four times a week,” Connelly said. “We have people just walk in the bakery and hand us $100 and say, ‘Put this toward the bread fund.'”

The company estimated that it has received roughly $75,000 in donations so far.

There were two major donations that stood out.

A $22,500 donation came from Prince William Food Rescue, a group that partners with food retailers and nonprofits to bring food directly to people experiencing food insecurity.

The other large donation of $5,000 came from the company X-Chair, which is headquartered in Beltsville, Maryland.

“We are very grateful and thankful for everyone who has helped us to be able to do this,” Connelly said.

A group called the Lorton Community Action Center, which provides food and financial assistance to low-income individuals, receives 2,000 loaves of donated bread from Great Harvest during a typical year.

But over this past year, that number has quadrupled to 8,000.

“When we deliver to the Lorton Community Action Center, there’s a line of people that’s 60 people deep and they’re all happy and thankful,” Connelly said. “It’s just amazing.”

Great Harvest is continuing to reach out to other businesses and organizations, asking for donation so it can continue its effort throughout 2021.

The business has two locations in Burke and Lorton.

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