Animals need their stockings stuffed too.

The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) is inviting supporters out on Thursday, Dec. 24, to donate to cats, dogs, and other pets at the facility.

“You can participate in person or remain physically distant while helping to fill the AWLA van with holiday goodies that will keep homeless animals entertained all year long!” the AWLA said.

Items can be delivered to the AWLA from an online list, which will be used to stuff the van. Participants can also sign up “in-pawson” for a 10 minute window to stuff the van full of goodies.

“Sign up for a 10-minute window during which you and your ‘family group’ can come by the AWLA to stuff the van with the help of an ‘AWLA elf’ and meet an adoptable animal who will benefit from your generous holiday donations,” the AWLA said. “All activities will be held outside the AWLA in our parking lot, and all participants must wear masks. (Please note that for safety reasons, participants will not be able to enter the building). Two different family groups will have time to visit with an adoptable animal and stuff the van during each 10-minute window, all while staying at a safe physical distance from each other.”

Image via AWLA/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Women Create At-Home Escape Room — “Escape Notice Games will be releasing a second game titled “Spies of Liberty” in the spring of 2021. This game will be based on George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring and players will have to solve 15 puzzles to help Washington defeat the British.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Local Churches Organize 20 Ton Food Drive — “The truck came across the country with twenty tons of food items like pasta, flour, black beans, corn, soup, peaches, pasta sauce, pancake mix, peanut butter, mayonnaise, green beans, and more!” [Zebra]

Mayor Critiques “Herd Immunity” Suggestion — “If we apply the current US death rate of 1.9% to that case total, we will lose another 1,400 Alexandrians during that time, on top of the 82 that we have sadly lost already.” [Twitter]

Duncan Branch Library Looking for New Aide — “Duncan Branch Library The Alexandria Library is looking for enthusiastic individuals to join the Circulation team with the Alexandria Library. The ideal candidates will have exceptional customer service skills and the desire to contribute to a busy neighborhood library.” [City of Alexandria]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

ACPS Eyes Late January as Earliest Date for In-Person Classes — “Frustrated parents are continuing to push Alexandria City Public Schools officials to reopen schools for in-person instruction, but the earliest possible date for some students will be in the second half of January” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Free Coffee for Frontline Workers at Alexandria Starbucks — “Front-line workers can get free coffee throughout December from Starbucks locations throughout the United States, including these three in Alexandria.” [Patch]

Where to Donate in Alexandria for Giving Tuesday — “There are plenty of nonprofits and causes to support in Alexandria, from national organizations based in the city, to organizations helping Alexandrians.” [Patch]

Caregiver for Seniors Sought — “At Sunrise, our Care Manager is responsible for providing the highest degree of quality care and services to a consistent group of residents and their families in our assisted living and reminiscence neighborhoods.” [Sunrise Senior Living]

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Mayor: Council to Accelerate Sewer Capacity Projects — “Our ’16 Storm Sewer Capacity Analysis identified 90 areas where the system does not meet our CURRENT design standard of a 10-year storm. Our Stormwater Utility Fee was implemented in ’18 to fund capacity and environmental compliance. Council will now discuss how to accelerate.” [Facebook]

Beyer Attacks Trump’s Environmental Stance — “Trump’s climate change strategy is the same as his pandemic strategy: play it down and pretend it isn’t happening. There are a record number of named storms in the Atlantic and the west coast is on fire.” [Twitter]

Anonymous Donation Helps Expand SNAP Double Dollars Program — “A $10,000 anonymous donation to help fight food insecurity during the pandemic will help the City expand SNAP Double Dollars program, which allows SNAP customers who visit participating Alexandria farmers’ markets to receive up to $20 in double dollars to purchase eligible food products at the markets.” [Facebook]

Environmental Council of Alexandria Decries Taylor Run Restoration Plan — “We’ve got our work cut out for us to make sure that the City doesn’t continue to promote so-called “eco” policies that actually come at the expense of the environment and efforts to reverse global warming.” [Facebook]

Tall Ship Providence Sails Away for Inspections — “And, they’re off… Bright and early this morning, Providence headed out on a voyage to Georgetown, MD for a scheduled haul out and Coast Guard inspection. They’ll inspect the hull, complete any necessary maintenance, and she’ll get a new coat of bottom paint. Please join us in wishing our Captain and crew “Fair winds and following seas.” Providence will return home by the end of September. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard for tours and cruises!” [Facebook]

Classic Car Show in Old Town September 19 — “This Saturday you can head to the parking lot of the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum for a classic car show featuring a variety of Packards and other ‘orphan’ vehicles.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “During the day, mainly sunny. High 73F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, clear. Low 54F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Spanish Language Teacher — “You must have previous tutoring/teaching experience, and minimum Bachelor’s degree.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

A Quarter of Alexandria Voters Have Requested Mail-In Ballots — “Over a quarter of Alexandria’s registered voters have applied for a ballot by mail for this November’s election (!!!). Ballots will be mailed out beginning next week when in-person early voting also begins. You can apply online today for a mail ballot!” [Twitter]

Seven Alexandria Students Make National Merit Scholarship List — “Students from Alexandria area high schools have been named 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, taking the first step in securing a scholarship in the competitive program.” [Patch]

Beyer Criticizes Trump for Complaining Over Scandals — “You were recorded admitting you deceived the entire country about the danger of a virus that has killed more Americans than all wars since WWII combined. Can’t lie your way out of this one.” [Twitter]

ACPS Needs Donations for School Supplies — “While this year is considerably different because of the coronavirus pandemic, students still need essential supplies. ACPS is asking for community support. However, instead of donating physical items, they request that interested parties donate funds electronically.” [Zebra]

Alexandria Police Officer Appointed to State Board — “Governor Ralph Northam announced on September 4 that he has appointed Alexandria Police Officer Bennie L. Evans to the Commonwealth of Virginia Criminal Justice Services Board.” [Facebook]

Here’s Seven Things to do in Alexandria This Fall — “Enjoy a cruise aboard the tall ship Providence or set out for the new cat café or coming-soon dog bar. Contemplate new outdoor artwork like the ‘Come Together’ mural in Old Town. Mask up and visit just-opened independent businesses including the D.C. area’s first zero-waste sustainable grocer plus the national eco-conscious brand Patagonia, coming to King Street in September. Twelve new restaurants will tempt you with takeout or outdoor seating. Don your face mask and discover what’s new in Alexandria.” [Visit Alexandria]

Workforce Development Center Offers Job Counseling — “Are you recently unemployed or want to change your career and don’t know where to start? We are now offering free one-on-one Job Search Coaching to help Alexandrians who have experienced job loss during the pandemic.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms likely during the day. Potential for heavy rainfall. High 83F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.Thunderstorms likely in the evening. Then a chance of scattered thunderstorms later on. Low 73F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Scholarship Fund of Alexandria Assistant Director — “The qualified applicant will be eager to support the organization’s effort to help Alexandria high school students obtain college scholarships and college and financial aid advising. This position is full-time, year-round and provides an opportunity to work in a small, dynamic, mission-driven, collegial nonprofit organization.” [Indeed]

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Back in September, Scott Thomas and Natalie Puri donated their personal food to ALIVE!, and soon after the couple were volunteering for the nonprofit, driving a food truck around the city and directing food distribution efforts.

“I asked if they needed volunteers and they asked if I could drive a truck,” Thomas told ALXnow. “That was on a Tuesday. By Friday I was going on a test drive.”

Thomas, who serves full time in the U.S. Navy, now manages multiple truck-to-trunk food giveaways at Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary School. It’s an important job that takes up two Saturdays and up to 12 hours of their time every month (Puri directs traffic at the events), but Thomas says it’s worth it.

“I’m always glad that I did it, because I think it’s valuable,” he said. “I think it would get done without me, but I’m glad to play a part.”

ALIVE! currently needs volunteers, all of whom are vetted through Volunteer Alexandria.

Thomas has noticed a change in the clientele since the coronavirus hit the city.

“You realize people are in dire straits,” he said. “We started seeing folks in very nice cars, new suburbans, and those are $70,000. You think in your mind that one of the owners could have been a bartender and the other worked at a health club, and they could afford a car like that, but now they’re both out of a job.”

He also looks forward to the end of the pandemic and no longer wearing a face mask.

“The worst part is not see people’s faces,” he said. “There’s a fine line from being very prosperous and standing in line for food. But I can tell that they are very grateful.”

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Man Has Washington Football Team Name Trademarks — “Phillip Martin McCaulay, 61, has made dozens of submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost a dozen potential names and other iterations of them.” [WTOP]

Police Department Celebrates 150th Birthday — “150 years of exemplary service to the citizens of Alexandria! Happy anniversary to the Alexandria Police Department founded on this day, July 15, 1870.” [Facebook]

Alexandria, Arlington Apply for Grants to Fund MV Trail Widening, King Street Improvements — “Arlington County and the City of Alexandria are applying for a pair of grants that would bring significant changes to the Mt. Vernon Trail and a portion of King Street near Fairlington.” [ARLnow]

The Heritage Development Gets Smaller — “The original proposed plan included 842 new units with parking underneath the park area. After receiving feedback and concerns about the height and mass of the original plan, the proposed number of units has been reduced to 777, with 774 parking spaces underneath the new structures.” [Alexandria Living]

Carpenter’s Shelter Gets $15K Donation — “Carpenter’s Shelter has not stopped serving the homeless during the pandemic. Recently, the organization received a $15,000 donation from the nonprofitAmerican Water Charitable Foundation and Virginia American Water.” [Zebra]

New Job: Team Member — “Toastique in Old Town, Alexandria and is seeking team members to help create smoothies, gourmet toasts, and run the POS system. Employees will be joining a team to create a fun, clean, fresh environment for a gourmet toast and juice bar in bustling Old Town! No specific skills or experience needed, but applicant must be excited to interact with customers and serve healthy, fresh food to the community.” [Indeed]

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On Saturday, ALIVE! provided hundreds of hungry families with free food at it’s mid-month free food distribution at Cora Kelly School and John Adams Elementary. The nonprofit has given out three times more food on a monthly basis since the pandemic hit the city, and the only way it’s been made possible has been through the efforts of Volunteer Alexandria.

“People respond to our calls to action,” Marion Brunken, executive director of Volunteer Alexandria, told ALXnow. “Our data shows that there are three times as many volunteers before COVID that signed up to volunteer. That translates to 7,500 people.”

Many of the volunteers that dropped out from the roster at Volunteer Alexandria and ALIVE! are seniors citizens, who are restricted from donating their time since it is a health hazard. Of the 57 fatalities from the virus in Alexandria, all but one of them are above the age of 50. Consequently, no volunteers are allowed over the age of 64.

Jennifer Ayers, the executive director of ALIVE! said that there is still a need for volunteers to pack groceries for families. The nonprofit has given out hundreds of thousands of pounds of food since March.

“There is still a huge need daily to bag the groceries,” she said. “And the moratorium on evictions is expiring this month. We are still going to see evictions going up and there will be an increased need for financial support. If you have a choice between rent or food, if we can provide one of those things, we will.”

Right now, Volunteer Alexandria is looking for helpers to package 30,000 face masks (20,000 from the State Department and 10,000 from the city) to be sent out to nonprofits.

The pandemic also forced ALIVE! to temporarily shutter its furniture distribution and child care programs, and have focused on food distribution at more than a dozen locations around the city. Now after months of nonstop work, Ayers and Brunken have to motivate their staffs and keep them from burning out.

“I work every day, weird hours sometimes,” Ayers said. “I try to raise a lot of money and talk to a lot of people. Sometimes I wake up and the first thing I think about is work… My food staff is really tired and cranky. We’re working really hard.”

Photo via ALIVE!/Facebook

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Morning Notes

The Del Ray Vintage and Flea Market is Happening — “We are BEYOND excited about having our July Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market AND we are hosting the MV Big Flea! The best of both worlds … come safely shop the flea market, see our new vendors and help support Mount Vernon Community School when you purchase from the MV Big Flea booth! Saturday, July 11th from 9am-1pm.” [Facebook]

New Driving Laws Take Effect July 1 — “On Wednesday, July 1, a new law takes effect in Virginia requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians. Further, the driver may not move until the person walking in their lane has passed safely.” [Zebra]

Marijuana Decriminalized July 1 — “ON JULY 1, VIRGINIA JOINS 26 states and Washington, D.C. in ceasing to jail people for possessing small amounts of cannabis. Gov. Ralph Northam signed SB 2 into law in May. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana will be punishable by a civil fine of up to $25 instead of a criminal charge that could mean up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. The bill prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose marijuana possession charges.” [Gazette]

Report: More Parents Considering Homeschooling for Their Kids — “The number of families considering homeschooling is skyrocketing according to Anne Miller, executive director of Home Educators Association of Virginia. Miller said their office has been flooded with calls from parents interested in homeschooling, and their Facebook group Homeschooling in Virginia has welcomed nearly 3,500 new members since the virus hit.” [Alexandria Living]

Sheriff’s Deputy Retires — “Our heartfelt thanks and best wishes to Master Deputy Saeed Shakoor! He is retiring after more than 26 years of dedicated service to ASO and the people of Alexandria. We’re sure going to miss you, Deputy Shakoor!” [Facebook]

Lorton Community Action Center Donates to ALIVE! — “This 788 pounds combined with other produce supports 220 food-insecure seniors in the City of Alexandria.” [Facebook]

Port City Brewing Co. Re-Releases Derecho Lager — “Derecho Lager® is named after a violent storm that barreled through the DC Metro region on June 29th, 2012, leaving the brewery without power for five days. Unable to control fermentation temperatures, a tank of freshly brewed pilsner was at risk of being lost. Realizing the beer would not meet the guidelines of a Bohemian Pilsner, we decided to experiment with the beer – keeping fermentation temperatures on the warmer side, and dry-hopping with Centennial hops. These non-traditional techniques paid off, and the result was the creation of our first American Lager!” [Facebook]

New Job: Wax Center Manager — “European Wax Center in Alexandria is currently seeking a sensational Center Manager with passion, determination and a commitment to excellence that will help take our center to new heights.” [Indeed]

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ACT for Alexandria’s ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund has now raised more than $1 million, and $910,000 has been given in grant funding to other city nonprofits.

ACT for Alexandria Executive Director Heather Peeler says that even though COVID-19 numbers are going down, the community needs are still great. The nonprofit has paused its grant request process for the month of June while it maps out its fundraising strategy for the rest of the year.

“The needs of community members are still substantial,” Peeler said. “All of our community partners are getting calls from constituents who need assistance. The health and economic impacts of the pandemic are still with us, even though I think everybody’s really geared up to get back to work. There are still many community members who are disproportionately affected and we need to continue to support them as they navigate this crisis.”

Peeler and her staff of four employees and two interns also organized and managed the Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15, which broke the city’s one-day giving record by raising $2.45 million for Alexandria nonprofits.

Now ACT for Alexandria is crafting a racial equity statement to guide its future priorities, and Peeler and her staff are organizing racial equity workshops. Peeler said that there is currently a waiting list of 100 people who want to attend in June and July.

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