Alexandria, VA

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Alexandria’s Latino population has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and an annual 5K to support them is going virtual.

From October 8-26, nonprofit Casa Chirilagua will conduct its virtual 5k run and walk to help support students and families impacted by COVID-19, virtual schooling and unemployment.

Participants will need to download the atlasGO app to track progress and win prizes.

Registration costs $25 and participants are asked to go outside to run or walk.

“We can not track your activity indoors,” notes the website for the 5k. “It is difficult to catch the right satellite signal indoors. For the optimal accuracy please add your activity manually if you are running on a treadmill or if you are walking in a building.”

NOT CANCELLED! While we won't be together today in person for our annual 5K, we can still be together virtually with the…

Posted by Casa Chirilagua on Thursday, October 8, 2020

Challenge: Can you complete the Casa Virtual 5K while pushing a double stroller with kids? Our Executive Director,…

Posted by Casa Chirilagua on Thursday, October 1, 2020

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Morning Notes

Kamala Harris’ Husband Douglas Emhoff Ecourages Voters in Alexandria — “Excited to welcome @DouglasEmhoff to Alexandria as he works to encourage voters to turn out and make his wife our next Vice President!34K+ ballots have been mailed.Nearly 8K in-person early voters….and we are just getting started!” [Twitter]

Councilman Chapman Takes Tour of Potomac Yard Metro Station Construction –“Some pictures from my tour this morning of the construction site of the Potomac Yard Metro!” [Facebook]

Art on the Avenue Goes Virtual This Weekend — “Happy October! While this year’s festival is different, we’re still working overtime to support local artists and maintain the creativity and spirit of this community festival that we all love. Our 25th anniversary festival kicks off online Saturday at artontheavenue.org!” [Facebook]

Casa Chirilagua Chosen for Pandemic Street Design Grant — “Very grateful for Casa Chirilagua to have been selected!” [Facebook]

Carlyle Council Showing ‘Jumanji’ Saturday Night — “Join us this weekend for our Saturday Cinema Series showing of Jumanji: The Next Level! Grab a movie bag special from Sweet Fire Donna’s, bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy the film!” [Facebook]

Michael’s Little Italy Calls For Unity Through Italian Food — “Maybe we’re all from different families, countries, political parties. But that doesn’t matter at Sunday dinner. As we approach this weekend, I have an idea: come together folks. We have pizza, pasta, wine, and each other. That is really all we need.” [Facebook]

Sheriff Reads Kids’ Story Online — “Sheriff Dana Lawhorne shares a new book with a very important message — Speak Up! When something really matters, one voice can indeed make a difference.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Fitness Operations Manager — “The Operations Managers are dedicated to making the fitness experience at our clubs an exceptional one. They create a clean, fun and friendly environment by training and motivating their staff. They also generate revenue, keep a clean and well maintained club, all while providing great customer service.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

After Flooding, Councilman Says City Stormwater Management Needs Work — “Councilmember Chapman tells 7 On Your Side Thursday’s flooding means city leaders need to quickly consider wholesale changes in terms of storm management.” [WJLA]

City Extends Deadline on Personal Property Tax Payments — “To provide relief for our residents and businesses during the ongoing pandemic, the City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to extend the deadline for payment of the Personal Property Tax (Car Tax and Business). Payments are now due on December 15th.” [Twitter]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Grant to Develop Wifi-Friendly Outdoor Space — “AlexandriaVA.gov and Casa Chirilagua are working together to bridge the digital divide by building a safe and comfortable outdoor space with Wi-Fi for local students.” [Facebook]

Beyer Says Trump Watches Too Much TV — “The President says he is watching many hours of television a day as the country continues to reel amid its worst and deadliest crisis in most Americans’ lifetimes.” [Twitter]

City Wins National Technology Award for Remote 911 Call-Taking — “The annual PTI Solutions Awards recognize PTI member cities and counties that have implemented or updated innovative technology solutions within the past 15 months that positively affected local government performance and service to the public.” [CompTIA]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution on Saturday — “ALIVE! Truck-to-Trunk will distribute food at two drive-through sites on Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am at the parking lots of Cora Kelly (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and John Adams (5651 Rayburn Ave) Elementary Schools. This distribution includes bags of shelf stable groceries, fresh produce, and eggs, while supplies last. People are encouraged to drive through. Walks-ups should maintain 6 feet social distance, wear a face mask, and bring carts or reusable bags to carry food home. “[Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed during the day. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 82F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, partly cloudy. Low near 65F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Spa Coordinator — “This experience includes answering phones, scheduling spa services, greeting all customers, assisting with inquiries, and processing point of sale transactions for all products, always exceeding expectations.” [Indeed]

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While new COVID-19 cases are on the decline, local organizations are still working to ensure that residents have access to resources as Alexandria slowly reopens. Here are the next free food distributions in the city today and through the weekend.

There will be a free food distribution at Casa Chirilagua (4109 Mount Vernon Avenue) today (Thursday) from 5 to 7 p.m. People are asked to wear face masks and to bring carts to take food home.

Additionally, every evening Christ House (131 S. West Street) provides a free hot meal from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

On Friday, there will be food distributions at:

Meals and bags of shelf stable groceries.TODAY 5 pm – 6 pm at Casa Chirilagua (4109 Mt Vernon Ave).In cooperation…

Posted by ALIVE on Thursday, June 18, 2020

ALIVE! is also helping Alexandria City Public Schools with its food distribution, and food is available during the week at the following locations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

  • William Ramsay Elementary School, 5700 Sanger Avenue, from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Francis C. Hammond Middle School, 4646 Seminary Road, from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, 3600 Commonwealth Avenue, from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School, 1501 Cameron Street, from 9 a.m. to noon
  • T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King Street, from 9 a.m. to noon
  • Mason Apartments at South Reynolds Street, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, from 11:20 to 11:50 a.m.
  • Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Community Lodgings at 607 Notabene Drive, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Old Towne West Apartments (parking lot) at 500 South Alfred Street, from 11:20 to 11:50 a.m.
  • Corner of Florence Drive and Four Mile Road, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • The Fields of Alexandria at 4309 Duke Street, from 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Bennington Crossing Apartment Homes at 441 North Armistead Street, from 11:30 a.m. to noon

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Large Income Disparities in Alexandria — “White Alexandria is pulling in significantly more money than Hispanic workers and African Americans, according to numbers from the United States Census Bureau. A look at average income shows non-Hispanic whites make more than $85,000 a year. That’s more than three times the average income for Hispanic workers, $24,000, and more than twice the average income for black workers, $37,000.” [Gazette]

Water Taxi Returns to Old Town — “A face mask requirement and other safety measures are in place for the limited water taxi service.” [Patch]

Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden Hosting Juneteenth Trivia Night — “It’s long been on our calendar to celebrate Juneteenth – marking the legal end of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865 – with a trivia night that explores African American culture. We hope you’ll join us on Zoom this Friday night for this special evening! Tickets are FREE, but an optional donation will be split between us, Carlyle House Historic Park, and ALIVE. Pre-registration at our Eventbrite page is required.” [Facebook]

NVTA Recommends Full Funding for Duke Street Transitway — “The Duke Street Transitway was the City of Alexandria’s only request to the NVTA and the cost is estimated at $87 million. Alexandria received $12 million already, so this funding request is for the remaining $75 million.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH is hosting virtual community meetings to provide information on the design of the proposed buildings and site-wide updates.” [City of Alexandria]

Casa Chirilagua Hosting Fundraiser Sunday — “Casa Chirilagua is a local community nonprofit serving the Central American Latinx community in City of Alexandria zip code 22305 – a hot spot for COVID-19. Because of the health and economic conditions, demand for Casa Chirilagua’s services has become enormous.” [Facebook]

‘Ascend Cycle’ Hosting Virtual Pride Ride — “A $15 minimum donation is requested for this event. 100% of proceeds will be donated. Sign up for the ride online and we’ll text you the Zoom code before class!” [Facebook]

YMCA Reopens in Del Ray — “Your local YMCA at 420 East Monroe Avenue is back in business. It opened for the first time in months this past Monday, June 15, along with the Arlington location. The Y is following a phased approach to reopening so you will see differences when you visit.” [Zebra]

New Job: Assistant Center Manager — “Mathnasium is a highly dynamic and fast-paced and is known for the great care we take with our students and employees alike… We’re looking for an Assistant Center Manager to assist at both our Alexandria City and Mount Vernon centers. The pay range we’re offering is $16-$18/hour depending on center performance.” [Indeed]

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A new free Friday food distribution at Casa Chirilagua in Arlandria has been set to help the community through most of the summer.

More than 1,000 boxes of fresh food from the Baltimore, Maryland-based Church of the Apostles in the City was given to residents, who lined up through the trails and around the football field at Four Mile Run Park.

“This is the first Friday that we’re doing this mass food distribution and it will continue for the next seven Fridays,” Casa Chirilagua Executive Director Adriana Gómez Schellhaas told ALXnow.

Arlandria has some of the highest numbers of COVID-19, and is home to some of the city’s poorest residents.

Jay Baylor is the pastor at Church of the Apostles, and said that the church will deliver a truckload of food every week.

“When COVID hit, we upped our game and started delivering more food in our neighborhood in East Baltimore,” Baylor said. “Last week we brought 15 pallets down here to Casa Chirilagua and 10 pallets to Old Town Community Church.”

Arlandria resident Sophia Reyes had trouble carrying the 40 pounds of food home. Reyes, who lives with her daughter and granddaughter, said that the family has been dependent on weekly food distributions in the community.

“[My daughter] can’t work and it is very important for us to get this food,” Reyes said.

ALIVE! will also hold its next monthly food distribution on Saturday morning.

The “truck-to-trunk” food distribution will be held at ALIVE! from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in the parking lots of Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School. People who walk to the site are asked to observe social distancing.

Staff photos by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Family Recovers From COVID-19 — “In early March, 18-year-old Ana Murphy came down with a sinus infection. But as her symptoms persisted, her parents, Gregg and Monica Murphy, both became ill. It was then that the family began to suspect that this was not a normal seasonal virus.” [Gazette]

Beyer Criticizes Maskless President Trump at Memorial Day Ceremony — “It’s true today and every day: the President should lead by example instead of ignoring health precautions designed to protect the public.” [Twitter]

Pork Barrel BBQ Drops Off 300 Meals at COVID-19 Testing Sites — “This afternoon we dropped off 300 meals at the Landmark & Cora Kelly COVID testing sites. One of our more memorable jobs that’s for sure. THANK YOU to all the emergency responders and volunteers administering tests today, we appreciate you!” [Facebook]

Inova COVID Hospital Fund Gets $100,000 Contribution — “Twig’s contribution to this fund helps Alexandria meet the escalating needs of COVID-19 patients by providing for additional staffing, personal protection equipment for our front line heroes, specialized equipment for the unique needs of COVID-19 patients, increased services for homebound families, and other resources to address the rapidly changing situation.” [Zebra]

Here’s How to Get Rental Assistance in Alexandria — “Applications received through Friday, May 29 will be reviewed as part of the first application cycle, with priority given to applicants in the Tier 1 income range. Applications received after May 29 will be reviewed on a rolling basis contingent on funding availability.” [Facebook]

Jason and Loren Yates Donate $12K in Face Masks to Local Groups — “The masks were sent to the volunteers in local service organizations including Senior Services of Alexandria delivering Meals on Wheels, ALIVE, Carpenter’s Shelter, Casa Chirilagua, and the Grace Episcopal Food Bank.” [Zebra]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications. They plan, design, implement, and evaluate AHD public relations, publications, and promotional health and service communications.” [Indeed]

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Casa Chirilagua and Neighborhood Health‘s efforts to increase the amount of COVID-19 testing in Arlandria have been rewarded by a $10,000 donation from AT&T split between the two nonprofits.

“At AT&T, we want to be there when our communities need us,” said Garrett McGuire, the AT&T regional director of external and legislative affairs, in a statement. “Chirilagua has faced many challenges during this pandemic, so we wanted to do what we could to help.”

Last Saturday, Neighborhood Health provided hundreds of free coronavirus tests outside Casa Chirilagua, and the nonprofit’s executive director said that the $5,000 donation came at a pivotal time.

“With this contribution, we were able to set up and administer testing and consultations at the Casa Chirilagua site,”Dr. Basim Khan said. “With this contribution, we were able to set up and administer testing and consultations at the Casa Chirilagua site. This additional testing is helping us identify and bring into care individuals who otherwise would have gone untested and unconnected to the care they need.”

Arlandria is also known as Chirilagua, after a municipality in El Salvador of the same name. The community, which is in the 22305 ZIP code, is heavily Hispanic and has 463 reported cases and an estimated population of 16,095. Hispanic residents make up 17% of the population and are leading with the highest number of cases in the city, with 783 reported cases, six deaths and 75 hospitalizations.

The actual number of cases in the community is unclear, since many residents live in packed housing and do not have health insurance and access to transportation.

Casa Chirilagua will use its $5,000 contribution to expand its outreach in Arlandria.

“AT&T’s response to the needs in the community brings a message of hope to those who have been terribly impacted by this crisis and ensures families have what they need to withstand this pandemic,” Casa Chirilagua Executive Director Adriana Gómez Schellhaas said. “Together, we can get through this, and we are extremely grateful for AT&T’s support of the community and for leading the way to a better future!”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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With a line around the block, Casa Chirilagua and World Central Kitchen gave out 1,500 meals to families in Arlandria on Thursday afternoon.

Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken told ALXnow that there will be a new community food distribution next Thursday at Charles Houston Recreation Center. The food is being provided by Washington Street United Methodist Church, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority and Royal Restaurant from 4 to 6 p.m.

Volunteers can sign up for the distribution here.

“If they decide this works and is a good need, they will do it bi-weekly,” Brunken told ALXnow.

In Arlandria, the food was provided by Taco Bamba in D.C., and community volunteers gave it out over the course of an hour. The meals were made of chicken, vegetables and rice. The residents also received bags of groceries from ALIVE!

Next week’s World Central Kitchen food distribution will be at William Ramsay Elementary School after 5 p.m.

Staff photos by James Cullum

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The following Letter to the Editor was written by Adriana Gomez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, a Christian nonprofit in the Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood that provides help for local low-income families. 

“When will we go back to normal?”

Like me, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question since this crisis started.

What was normal to you, pre-pandemic? For me, normal was spending time with friends and happily not social distancing, going to work without having to wear a mask and being able to work for eight+ hours a day because my toddler twins were spending the day with our lovely babysitter.

Before COVID-19, normal for many of our neighbors in Chirilagua was spending any free time working a second or third job to ensure bills were paid and food was on the table. Normal for many others was an accustomed reality of food insecurity, joblessness, and lack of medical care. The normalcy of the economic disparities that exist in this vibrant community where we, Casa Chirilagua, have spent the last 13 years building long-term relationships with neighbors has caused it to be one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19 in Northern Virginia.

Since COVID-19, normal has turned upside down for Casa Chirilagua and our neighborhood. The squeals and excitement of our Kids Club students during the afternoons have been replaced by a donation pantry bursting at the seams with vital food and essential items for Casa families, thanks to the outpour of generosity from city residents and folks all the way from Rockville, Maryland.

Our parking lot is not filled with cars of dedicated volunteers coming to spend time to read and tutor students, but has been turned into a COVID-19 testing site thanks to our wonderful partnership with Neighborhood Health.

Our regular fundraising pattern for this time of year isn’t the normal lull we experience after Spring2ACTion but has changed drastically as we continue to see donation after donation from kind individuals, church partners, and organizations like the Del Ray Business Association and Hume Springs Civic Association, all wanting to support the mission of Casa Chirilagua and make sure Casa families have the necessary resources to survive this pandemic.

This is not normal. But what if it was?

What if this outpouring of generosity lasted all year round, year after year, ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors in Arlandria have what they need? What if vital health screenings were readily available week after week to neighbors who could not afford them or do not have access to a doctor?

What would it look like to truly love our neighbor as ourselves?

This crisis has caused the “normal” negative issues which plague our community to rear their ugly heads even more. However, it has also resulted in generosity, camaraderie and empathy to shine ever so brightly. Business owner Jason Yates sent us a donation of 100 handmade masks. Sheriff Lawhorne and his deputies did not hesitate for one second when I asked for their assistance in directing traffic during our donation hours. City residents like Marcia Call organized her own donation drive, delivering to us the biggest haul of donations we have seen to date.

There are countless others, like Rosa Landeros, the parent liaison at Mount Vernon Community School, who said to me, “Anything this community needs, please call me.”

The ways that many in our city have loved our neighbors in Chirilagua during this crisis is emotionally overwhelming for me in a beautiful way. When this is over, my prayer is that these gestures of love and kindness will not cease but increase, making it the new normal for us and our city.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

City Helps World Central Kitchen Give Out 1,250 Meals — “On May 14, City staff and volunteers distributed 1,250 hot meals to 350 families in the third food distribution organized in Alexandria by World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit food distribution organization founded by chef José Andrés. Local nonprofit ALIVE! also distributed 800 pounds of food at the event. This food distribution will take place again at Casa Chirilagua on May 21 and Ramsay Elementary School on May 28.” [City of Alexandria]

10,000 Maniacs Show at The Birchmere Rescheduled to November — “his show has been RESCHEDULED AGAIN, now for Friday November 20, 2020! All 3/20/20 & 5/31/20 tickets will be honored on the new date. Refunds available through Ticketmaster if you cannot attend the new date. If you purchased at The Birchmere Box Office, please hold on to your tickets until we reopen. Tickets for 11/20/20 on sale now!” [Birchmere]

Old Town Books Raising Funds to Stay Afloat — “I never thought I would be turning to crowd funding to keep the store open. This fundraiser is to cover payroll, rent, and fixed costs during the shut down. It will keep the store open through the next very uncertain year while we adapt our business model to continue operating through the COVID-19 outbreak. I want Old Town Books to be here when the clouds part, and I hope you do, too.” [GoFundMe]

Here’s the Latest from the Old Town Boutique District — “The Old Town Boutique District kindly asks for you to continue to hold hands with us and support us little guys any way that you can. We love our loyal shop local community and we still need you.” [OTBD]

Tall Ship Providence Hosting Virtual Tours on Tuesdays — “Every week, historic re-enactors talk about Providence, life aboard the ship and much more in a series of videos, online discussion and other virtual features.” [Alexandria Living]

North Potomac Yard Virtual Community Meeting at 7 p.m. — “The Virginia Tech Foundation and JBG SMITH will host a virtual community meeting to provide information regarding transportation, open space, sustainability and community benefits.” [City of Alexandria]

Sixth Grader Leaves Colorful Rocks in Neighborhood — “Sophie Richardson, a 6th grade student at St. Stephens/St. Agnes School, is brightening up the Vauxcleuse neighborhood near Inova Alexandria Hospital with rocks painted with uplifting messages for her neighbors to find.” [Gazette]

Virtue Feed and Grain Donates Meals to D.C. Nonprofit — “We are grateful for the partnership & hope to continue giving back to our community.” [Facebook]

Pedego Electric Bikes Gets Colorful Shipment of Helmets — “We just received a shipment of new Thousand helmets! Refilling some favorites and adding a few new awesome colors. Come and get them while they last!” [Facebook]

The Art League is Offering Online Courses — “Check out our new online classes to help keep you connected to each other and your creativity. Connect to online classes using Zoom, a video-conferencing platform that is simple and easy to use. And stay in touch with your classmates and teacher with Google classroom.” [Art League]

New Job: Alexandria Health Department Communications Officer — “The AHD Communications Officer is a key member of AHD’s Population Health team comprised of the Population Health Manager, Health Planner, and HIV/AIDS Prevention Coordinator. The Communications Officer reports directly to the Population Health Manager, is AHD’s principal communications subject matter expert, and provides oversight of AHD’s internal and external communications.” [Indeed]

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As the Arlandria community struggles with the highest infection rate in Alexandria, Casa Chirilagua is asking for donations to help low-income families.

The city’s Hispanic population is largely located in Arlandria and leads with positive cases at 533 and four reported deaths.

“Our Latino community members are suffering disproportionately with COVID-19,” Casa Chirilagua said in an email. “Casa Chirilagua in Del Ray is a hub of support for the community. Their needs are great, but not anything we can’t address with concerted action.”

Donors are being asked to drop off donated items at 2610 Terrett Avenue and at Casa Chirilagua at 4109 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray by this Thursday at noon.

The Christian nonprofit located in Arlandria works with more than 120 families living below the poverty line, and so far the nonprofit has also paid more than $25,000 in rent and utilities for families impacted by COVID-19. At this time, the 22305 ZIP code, which includes the Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods, had the largest number of reported cases at 360, with an estimated population of 16,095 residents.

Additionally, last Friday, local groups demanded that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam authorize supplying 10,000 testing kits to the Arlandria area, and provide housing for poor COVID-positive patients living in jam-packed housing. It is not clear how many people have recovered from the virus, and an accurate count on the number of cases is difficult to maintain in Alexandria since the highest infection rates are in the city’s poorest areas.

Casa Chirilagua also conducts a donation drive from 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays and a weekly food distribution every Thursday at 5 p.m.

Here is a list of what they are looking for:

The most commonly needed household items for families in the community are the following:

  • Laundry Detergent
  • Body Soap
  • Dish Soap
  • Cleaning Supplies such as Windex and All-Purpose Spray Cleaners
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Dental Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Diapers
  • Masks
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels

The following food items are much needed in the community:

  • Uncooked beans (black/pinto)
  • Instant coffee
  • Oil (canola, olive)
  • Uncooked pasta
  • Canned tuna/chicken
  • Canned beans (black/pinto)
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Canned soups
  • Cereals
  • Baby food
  • Granola bars
  • Maseca (corn flour)
  • Packaged flour tortillas
  • Packaged corn tortillas
  • Baby formula
  • Apple Sauce
  • Mayonnaise/Mustard

Staff photo by James Cullum

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