Volunteers with Yellow Boomerang pose for a photo while distributing meal kits to 250 Bethesda families Saturday. The volunteers are holding bread from Lyon Bakery, a local business that donated to the project.

When Anna Behnam got the call six weeks ago that 250 Bethesda families needed holiday meals, she says she knew she had to step up and make it happen.

“I want our community to empower our community,” Behnam, a Bethesda business owner, said.

On Saturday, Behnam and a couple of dozen volunteers braved low temperatures to set up a drive-through on the field behind Montgomery County Fire Station No. 6 in Chevy Chase to distribute bags full of ingredients for holiday meals to local families in need, in partnership with the county’s Holiday Giving Project.

Montgomery County’s Holiday Giving Project connects with local nonprofits to provide holiday meals and toys to families. But when the Holiday Giving Project team realized they didn’t have a nonprofit to help distribute needed items to Bethesda-area families, they reached out to Yellow Boomerang.

“We coordinate between identifying families in need through the school system and other government agencies, and then connect those with these organizations to help make sure that the resources from all these community organizations can make it as far as possible,” said Nick DiGiulian, program administrator for the Holiday Giving Project. A few months ago, his group realized “We didn’t have a partner covering for Bethesda. I was given [Behnam’s] name through a co-worker because of the other giving events they’d hosted.”

DiGiulian said typically the Holiday Giving Project works with between 200 and 250 families in Bethesda, and over 12,000 families across the county.


Children in the county experience a poverty rate of over 9%, while 35% of public school students qualify for free and/or reduced-price meals (FARMS). Holiday spending can be difficult for many of these county families, and there’s a large need for holiday meals.

Behnam said the first year she and Aryan distributed about 260 meals, and last year they distributed just under 500. This year, they’re distributing 750 meals.

Yellow Boomerang distributed 475 meals Friday night at JoAnn Lelek Elementary in Silver Spring. We’re doing about 200 here [in Bethesda]. The organization is delivering 55 additional meals and 40 are going to Sheppard Pratt for their clients.


“The balance of that is just various families that have been identified that we can help,” Behnam said.

Yellow Boomerang is the brainchild of Behnam and Fred Aryan, who is retired and lives in Virginia, and had long worked together in community service. The two had been working for several years unofficially to distribute meals. Early this year, they started the nonprofit with a goal of supporting Montgomery County neighbors with their immediate needs while “helping them rise to the next level.”

The name Yellow Boomerang came from the idea of good karma coming back to the community, Aryan said.


“The idea was: We’re paying it forward, karma. Yellow is a happy color, and it’s associated with the energy chakra,” Aryan said. “By paying it forward, it will eventually all come back to us, to any community member that is trying to help us be involved in this.”

Yellow Boomerang was already working on several projects to provide meals to local families this holiday season – and when Behnam got the call to help with the Holiday Giving Project, she was nervous it could be a big undertaking when the nonprofit was already working to feed 500 families. And Behnam and Aryan had to deal with supply-chain issues when buying food. But over six weeks, Behnam was able to stock her garage with enough non-perishable food items to feed the additional 250 families.

“We want to give everybody an opportunity to help in the way that they’re able to help. All these kits were assembled on my driveway in the neighborhood on the street, so my neighbors who donate money can walk by and see the project, see their money at work, which I think is very powerful,” Behnam said.


Most of the food was purchased through financial donations to Yellow Boomerang. Each family also received fresh bread donated by Lyon Bakery in Hyattsville.

While there are large pockets of wealth in Montgomery County, Behnam said it is important for residents to remember they have neighbors in need all over the county.

“Today we are serving zip codes 20814, 20815, 20616 and 20817, which in my perception are wealthy communities. There are families that need it. … Everybody thinks Gaithersburg and Germantown are where people are desperate, you know? But people in need are in Bethesda. They’re here. The fact that they go out of their way to register for these events… just tells me that they need food,” Behnam said.