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West End residents now have a new hub to to take care of food insecurity and other basic living needs.

On Thursday morning (May 26), nonprofit and city leaders cut the ribbon for the ALIVE! West End Food Hub at 510 S. Van Dorn Street in the Van Dorn Station Shopping Center. The brick and mortar location was made possible by funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Residents will now be able to pick up free food five days a week, in addition to personal items, cleaning and school supplies, and connections to other city and federal services.

“I’m very excited about this,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at the ribbon cutting. “It’s addressing a critical need that multiplied exponentially at the beginning of COVID — our food insecurity, but it allows us to try to meet that need long into the future.”

Rolf Blank, is the vice president of the ALIVE! board, which is made up of dozens of representatives from religious congregations.

“For a long time, the board and a member of congregations have been looking for another way to be able to distribute food and interact with our community,” Blank said. “It’s really more than about food. It’s a way for people to interact with our staff.”

The Food Hub is open from noon to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

ALIVE! has given away millions of pounds of food during the pandemic, and needs donations and volunteers.

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Alexandria’s Homegrown Restaurant Group just stumbled across a proverbial goldmine of infant baby formula, and on Friday morning (May 20) they donated 10 cases of Similac Advance to ALIVE!.

It could take months before Alexandria grocery store shelves are stocked with infant formula, as communities around the country are struggling through the shortage.

HRG’s Bill Blackburn was inspired to find the formula after reading a Washington Post article about a restaurant owner who found a stash through his commercial food supply chain.

Blackburn made a call and found that his distributor had 10 cases of Similac Advance. It cost $1,000, which was paid for by HRG, Alexandria Celebrates Women and the Del Ray Business Association.

“Homegrown Restaurant Group is proud to partner with these organizations to provide this much-needed baby formula to ALIVE! during this crisis,” Blackburn said.

ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers said that the nonprofit needed the formula and is grateful.

“Once again neighbors have demonstrated that if there’s a need in this community that we can work together to help other neighbors,” Ayers said.

Courtesy photo

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ACT for Alexandria raised $2.5 million for 172 local nonprofits in its 12th annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser on Wednesday (April 27). The fundraiser is the largest single day of giving in Alexandria, and came just short of matching the amount raised last year, ACT CEO Heather Peeler told ALXnow.

“I’m almost speechless in terms of thinking about how to describe just the care and love that people show for our community,” Peeler said shortly after midnight. “This is really about the entire community coming together. It’s about the nonprofits that are doing incredible work that people want to support, the donors who are feeling really generous and the local businesses who see giving back as core to their business. It’s really an all-hands-on-deck effort from across the city.”

The final numbers keep changing, as stragglers will be allowed to donate on the Spring2ACTion website until Sunday, May 1.

The top three recipients were the same as last year: RunningBrooke took in $157,000 from 197 donors, followed by Casa Chirilagua with $114,000 from 313 donors and Friends of Guest House with $112,000 from 180 donors.

Spring2ACTion has raised nearly $19 million over the last 12 years, and awarded $28,000 in prizes to the organizations with the most donors.

The Del Ray Business Association also raised the most of the five competing business associations, raising $20,525 from 90 donors, and final tallies are still be made for participating businesses that contributed 10% of proceeds toward Spring2ACTion.

Spring2ACTion Top 10:

 

 

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Ukrainian refugees make it to Poland (courtesy of Mary Leonard)

(updated at 5:30 p.m.) A Night for Ukraine organizers hope to raise $10,000 to go toward relief efforts in Ukraine and raise awareness at the event, which Alexandria businesses have rallied behind to support.

LOVE in ALX‘s Mary Leonard and local business owner Dominique Fakir put together the Friday night fundraiser for U.S.-based nonprofit CORE, Community Organized Relief Efforts. The nonprofit’s volunteers are working in Poland to address the immediate needs of Ukrainian refugees.

“(A Night in Ukraine) really is just an opportunity for people to plug in locally and then see how their efforts here actually affect change over there,” Fakir told ALXnow. “You always want to help but you don’t know how. So my hope was really to have this event to share stories about what’s happening on the ground and then how people can give either financially, support-wise, even spreading awareness, like posting on social media, that matters, and keeping the conversation going.”

Leonard, who is in Poland volunteering, has been sharing stories about what she’s seen and heard on social media. She has helped escort refugees into Poland and said that their needs include everything from long-term housing, food and clothing.

“Some days the questions are ‘where can I get a bus to Warsaw or Rzeszow or another destination,'” Leonard said in an email. “Other days, we’re there with shopping carts to carry the luggage in shopping carts on to their destination busses…Refugees are now fleeing with one or two bags they threw together and emergency left their house. You’ll find everything from feminine products to coloring books in the crossing camp.”

Leonard posted a story on her social media accounts about horrifying conditions in Mariupol that a man told her about seeing before he made it to Poland and was separated from his son who is still in Ukraine.

“Four weeks ago, the lives of everyone in Ukraine were like yours. Loving, happy, sweet. They went to work, were raising their children, going to concerts, falling in love. And now this. Never take what you have for granted,” Leonard wrote in the post.

The fundraiser will host Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, First Secretary of the Ukrainian embassy Kateryna Smagliy, and CORE relief workers who will share their stories. As of this morning (Thursday) about 150 people had purchased tickets. Local businesses have donated more than $10,000 of in-kind services so there will be a plenty of food and people together in solidarity, Fakir said.

“This issue of the attack on democracy the unprovoked war it’s just heartbreaking as an American to see that,” she said.

The event will be held at the ALX rooftop at 277 South Washington Street, Penthouse 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Friday. Tickets are available on EventBrite.

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Morning Notes

The ‘I Love You’ art installation at Waterfront Park opens on March 25, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Leasing Starts for Apartments Over Wegmans —  “Developer Stonebridge and its leasing partner Bozzuto, announced Wednesday the start of leasing for Easton, a boutique-style apartment building offering sophisticated design and amenities located in the Carlyle Crossing neighborhood. The 11-story building is slated to begin move-ins in mid-April just ahead of the anticipated May 11 opening of Wegmans Carlyle Crossing.” [Alexandria Living]

Ukraine Donation Drive Launched — Leaders launched an effort Wednesday to provide donations, such as gently used coats, new blankets, new pairs of sweat socks or heavy socks, and new pairs of gloves at locations around Northern Virginia. “No matter the scale – global to local – humanity is a community unto itself and we must always come to the assist of those in need,” Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said at the event. [Facebook, Patch]

Kingstowne Woman’s Family Raises Funds to Find Suspect — “The family of a missing Alexandria woman, who is presumed dead, is raising money to help catch her alleged killer.”[WJLA]

It’s Thursday — Light rain throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 58. Sunrise at 7:06 a.m. and sunset at 7:25 p.m. [Weather.gov]

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Volunteer Hyacinth McInley gives out food outside Casa Chirilagua on May 21, 2020 (Staff photo by James Cullum)

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities this spring, including a mini serve-a-thon hosted by Volunteer Alexandria.

The serve-a-thon will be held from April 18 through 23 and pair those who register with a project that week that supports local and state parks. But for those who are looking for other types of chances, Volunteer Alexandria’s website lists plenty.

Here’s a roundup of some of the opportunities this spring:

  • Breaks with Impact (BWI) — “Students (grades 6 – 12) engage in a variety of service learning projects across the City of Alexandria from April 12 – 14. BWI participants do service activities, learn about how nonprofits and public agencies serves residents in their city, and explore careers. Click HERE to sign-up.”
  • Help Transitional Housing Residents with Budgeting — “Community Lodgings is seeking budget mentor volunteers to assist transitional housing residents with their monthly budgeting needs and provide additional financial guidance that will help the resident reach stability. The average mentor meets with clients once a month. Click HERE to sign up.”
  • Help Local Nonprofit with Fundraising — “Community Lodgings is seeking members for its fundraising committee. Members help raise the funds needed to meet their annual budget. Community Lodgings raises funds from individuals (direct mail, special events, major/monthly/annual donors), foundations, corporations and local organizations such as churches. Click HERE to express interest.”
  • Develop Communications Plan for Youth Nonprofit — “A dynamic local girls’ empowerment organization needs individuals to develop a strategic communications plan. Specifically, they need support with assessing existing communications activities, identifying key communications objectives, building a cohesive brand identity, and drafting a communications calendar. Click HERE to express interest.”
  • Local Library Seeks Repair Coaches for Fixit Clinic — “The Beatley Branch Library are looking for skilled professionals and amateur craftspeople who can help people fix items, explain the repair process, and encourage them to repair it themselves. People with experience in small appliances, furniture, computers, electronics, clothing, jewelry, bicycles, and blades are welcome. Fixit Clinics are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning in April. Click HERE to sign-up.”
  • Until Help Arrives — “This virtual class will teach you how to recognize violent activities, respond safely, provide immediate rescue tactics to the injured, and report them to 9-1-1 efficiently. These are transferable skills are applicable to countless situations involving traumatic injury (e.g. car accident, household injury, or an active shooter). The next class will be held on Monday, March 21. Click HERE to sign up.”
  • Take Seniors to Appointments — “Volunteer drivers take At Home in Alexandria (AHA)’s members to and from appointments, the grocery store, and AHA social gatherings, normally during business hours, Monday through Friday. Click HERE to express interest.”
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Flyer calls for help for Ukrainians (via Northern Virginia Regional Commission)

Northern Virginia is coming together to help Ukrainians struck by war.

Local leaders and community members, organized by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, will launch a donation drive at the Fairfax County Government Center on Wednesday (March 23), collecting items through April 15 to send to refugees in Ukraine and Poland.

Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson will be among others at the donation drive’s launch on Wednesday, along with Fairfax County and Manassas leaders, according to a media advisory.

The donations will be accepted at over 30 locations — from libraries to supervisors’ offices and more — starting Wednesday (March 23). The event will be broadcast at 10 a.m. on the Fairfax County government’s Facebook page.

Requested items include new and gently used coats as well as new blankets, gloves, and pairs of sweat or heavy socks. More information about the drive, including a list of collection sites, can be found at helpukrainenova.org. In Alexandria, there will be two sites — one at City Hall and the other at Beatley Central Library.

The items will be boxed together with help from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Oakton congregation. Paxton Companies, a North Springfield moving business, will then shrink wrap boxes and transport them to Wilmington, North Carolina.

A business that wishes to remain anonymous will ship the donations overseas, bringing the supplies to trucks in Antwerp and a non-governmental organization that has a supply chain on the ground, NVRC executive director Bob Lazaro said.

The campaign came together after local elected leaders reached out to NVRC, seeking to replicate a similar effort by the area in 2013 to help Syrian refugees who fled a civil war that’s still continuing.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24. The war has now killed thousands of people — including at least 902 civilians — destroyed cities, and threatened the country’s sovereignty, causing over 3 million refugees to flee to neighboring countries.

The United Nations’ human migration agency reported that 3.3 million people in Ukraine have been displaced. Every minute, 55 more Ukrainian children become refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund has estimated.

“Our residents don’t want to stand by — they want to help,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement. “As we uplift and offer support to our residents of Ukrainian descent here in the County, we can also aid in efforts abroad, sending much needed supplies to the millions of displaced Ukrainians taking refuge in Poland.”

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Alexandria nonprofit ALIVE! will conduct six free food distributions throughout the city this month.

No identification is required to pick up the groceries, produce, chicken, eggs and bread.

The food can be found at the following pop-up sites:

  • Friday, March 4, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street)
  • Thursday, March 10, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — William Ramsay Rec Center (5650 Sanger Avenue)
  • Friday, March 18, from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. — Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. — Fairlington United Methodist Church (3900 King Street)
  • Saturday, March 19, from 10:00 – 12 p.m. — UNCUT Youth (1501 Cameron Street)

There will also be three larger distribution events on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m:

  • Drive through and walk-up — Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue)
  • Drive through — NVCC Alexandria Campus (parking lot B-1 via 500 Dawes Avenue)
  • Walk-up — William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Ave)

ALIVE! has given away millions of pounds of food during the pandemic, and needs donations and volunteers.

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A leading Alexandria nonprofit that has given away millions pounds of food since the pandemic began is preparing to open two food distribution center for residents.

Just where the new ALIVE! centers will be located in the city is still under wraps, but the nonprofit hopes to make an announcement soon and open before the end of this spring. The plan is to make a one-stop shop for residents to get connected to city services.

“There will be one on the West End and one in the north side of Alexandria,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “It’s something that the organization’s wanted to do for a while, The idea is to network community and create a one-stop-shop for clients to get connected to other resources in one place at a time that’s convenient to them.”

Ayers said that her organization is now giving out upward of 150,000 pounds of food every month. Before COVID-19, ALIVE! was giving out about 30,000 pounds of food every month, and during the peak months of 2020 and 2021 increased to 200,000 pounds per month. That equates to providing food nowadays for about 3,000 families monthly, and the nonprofit has gone so far as to provide 5,000 families with food through multiple programs and monthly distributions throughout the city.

The next ALIVE! food distribution will be conducted at three sites on Saturday, Feb. 5. The event will be from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue), Northern Virginia Community College (500 Dawes Avenue), and William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Avenue).

Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook

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A local realtor is hosting a pajama party this month for Friends of Guest House residents.

The nonprofit’s reentry programs help women transition back to the community from prison. The pajamas and cozy socks will go to up to 70 women affiliated with the organization.

Realtor Maureen Clyne is leading the effort, and in a recent social media post wrote that Del Ray Cafe has donated 30 pairs of pajamas and socks. It’s her second time collecting pajamas for Friends of Guest House, and she was able to get 65 sets of pajamas donated in 2018.

“Everybody deserves a new pair of pajamas on Christmas morning,” Clyne told ALXnow. “My goal is 100 pairs of pajamas and socks by December 21. I’m at 32 sets right now.”

Donations of cozy socks and L-3XL pajamas can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker Realty, 310 King Street. Pickups can also be arranged by calling or texting 703-967-8884.

Friends of Guest House got a financial boost recently on Giving Tuesday by raising $30,300, and surpassing its goal by more than $10,000. Last year, the nonprofit reported 56 women participating in its six-month residential program. It has helped more than 4,000 women transition from incarceration since it was founded in 1974.

Sapan Patel/Unsplash

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