1/30/2024 | By John Levan

“I wanted to do something about hunger because the numbers are staggering,” said Bob Schnapp of Reston in Northern Virginia. He learned about a California man, Jonathan Trivers, who founded A Simple Gesture, a nonprofit combating hunger. After getting advice from Trivers, Schnapp founded A Simple Gesture Reston.

“People here are very generous,” Schnapp recalls a community member telling him, “you just have to make it simple for them to help you.” His organization does just that. A Simple Gesture’s motto is, “You fill the bag, we do the rest.”

Donors receive usable bags – dubbed “cool green bags” – which they fill with food and place on their porches at scheduled times throughout the year. Volunteers pick up the filled bags (replacing them with another bag and a grocery list) and then deliver the goods to local food pantries. Simple!

After Schnapp began the program in 2014, it quickly gained traction, with gifts and donor households multiplying. The key to success, he says, was creating a diverse team of volunteers and donors from various faiths, communities, businesses, and age groups. Together with a core group of dedicated volunteer leaders, he ensured the program’s sustainability and paved the way for similar food initiatives in other communities.

A Simple Gesture Reston stocks the shelves of four emergency food pantries in Reston and Herndon, Virginia. Since its first pickup in June 2015, the organization has distributed 978,385 pounds of groceries. This year alone, Schnapp and his team collected and donated nearly 160,000 pounds of groceries – enough to feed 5,000 families of four for a week.

Roberta Gosling, co-founder of the South Lakes High School PTSA Food Pantry, attests to the program’s impact. “Last year alone, Bob’s operation delivered over 4,300 bags of groceries, which translates to more than 52,000 pounds of food – about 20% of the non-perishable food we distribute to students and families,” she says. “This program is truly making a huge difference.”

Schnapp welcomes more volunteers and donors in the area. Those interested can find more information and sign-up forms at He also encourages people to consider opening A Simple Gesture organization in their own community. His remarkable volunteer efforts have proven that one selfless individual can touch numerous lives, one refillable bag at a time.

Related: Five Ways to Volunteer from Home

The Prestigious Governor’s Award

In 2023, Bob Schnapp was honored with the prestigious Virginia Governor’s Awards on Volunteerism and Community Service.

Established in 1984, these awards recognize exceptional volunteers in 10 categories for their contributions to the community. Every year, the governor, the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism, and Serve Virginia select honorees from nominations submitted from all over Virginia. More inspiring stories and nomination information is available at

John Levan

Freelance writer John Levan focuses on insurance, finance, and manufacturing as well as senior living topics. Based in Pennsylvania, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Alvernia University and Master of Arts in humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills.