Alexandria, VA

ALIVE! will conduct another food distribution to more than 1,000 families this Saturday, and the nonprofit needs face mask donations for volunteers.

“We received a donation from Yates Dry Cleaning,” ALIVE! Executive Director Jennifer Ayers told ALXnow. “We need more. We tried to order some recently and they’re hard to get. Right now we’re still waiting on them.”

ALIVE! has given away a record 110,000 pounds of food since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Alexandria. In fact, the nonprofit is breaking all sorts of records. On April 15, ALIVE! received the top number of donations —  $145,611 from 491 donors — in the annual Spring2ACTion fundraiser. The funds will be used for programming purposes, Ayers said.

“That was amazing,” Ayers said. “Our original goal was 60,000, based on what we raised last year.”

Home deliveries have also increased substantially, as ALIVE! is now delivering food every day to 500 individuals stuck at home, as opposed to an average of about 200 families before the crisis.

ALIVE! is utilizing a warehouse space provided by the city to receive all of the food from suppliers, and the pandemic has caused a few disruptions in deliveries. Inside the warehouse, no more than 10 volunteers at a time receive the food and package it, while being six feet away from each other.

“Home deliveries for today was 500, and that’s almost 600 pounds of food for just one day,” said Ann Patterson, ALIVE’s food program director. “I have enough food to do another 1,000 families this Saturday, but then we’ve got to figure out how to manage on a week-to-week and on a day-to-day type kind of basis, and you have to manage it that way because the supply chain has been disrupted.”

This Saturday’s food distribution will be held at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center (23 W. Reed Ave.) and John Adams Elementary School (5651 Rayburn Avenue) from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Those receiving food are encouraged to drive to the sites and to stay in their cars. Pedestrians are asked to observe social distancing and to stay six feet away from volunteers or others.

Photo via Alive!/Facebook

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The Spring2ACTion fundraiser for the city’s nonprofits is off to a strong start, with more than $500,000 raised from early giving, according to ACT for Alexandria CEO Heather Peeler.

“This year we are asking every donor as part of the checkout process to make an additional gift to the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund,” Peeler said. “So far, that has raised more than $15,000.”

The 24-hour online giving event starts today, April 15, and is the largest single-day fundraiser in the region. Early giving started on April 3, and this year’s goal is to attract 10,000 donors.

The annual fundraiser, which was moved to April 15 from April 29 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has raised upward of $10 million from 65,000 donors for more than 160 local nonprofits since it began in 2011. Last year, a record $2.1 million was raised. The fundraiser usually features in-person events, while this year all activities are online.

We are excited and grateful to see how your many examples of compassion, generosity and thoughtful donations have helped…

Posted by ACT for Alexandria on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Prizes will be awarded to the nonprofits that receive the most donations.

Together We Bake, the local nonprofit dedicated to providing comprehensive workforce training and personal development for women in need, had to suspend its spring program due to COVID-19. It is currently asking the community for $55,000, and has received a $10,000 matching gift from the Mason Hirst Foundation.

“Spring2ACTion has begun and we need your help now more than ever,” Together We Bake sent in an email. “We are hearing from many graduates who need help paying for rent and food for their families as the result of layoffs. While we have always had a small amount of funding set aside to help a few graduates facing emergencies each year, we want to be able to help any and all of our alumnae who need assistance and have nowhere else to turn.”

Last year, Running Brooke took home the top prize of the most donations for the second year in a row, with $125,827. The Metropolitan School of the Arts came in second place with $68,825 and King Street Cats raised $62,086. The Alexandria Soccer Association had the most donors, with 750 individual donations, and raised $50,828.

The “Friends of Rocky Versace” is also looking for more than $18,000 to reimburse the city for needed repairs for its memorial outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.

Other participating nonprofits also include MetroStage, The Alexandria Seaport Foundation, ALIVE!, and Local Motion Project.

Courtesy image

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Alexandria City Public Schools will distribute food on a modified schedule to families during spring break next week, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. announced on Thursday.

“We have been able to partner with the city, which I’m really excited about, to continue to have our grab-and-go meal distribution on next week,” Hutchings said in his daily video. “It will not be at all of our sites, though. It will only be at T.C. Williams  next week.”

The grab-and-go meals will be available next week on the Chinquapin Park and Recreation Center side of T.C. Williams High School on Wednesday, April 8, and Friday, April 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“We will resume our normal scheduling of our meal distributions at all of our sites as well as our mobile pop-up sites when we return back on April 13, so there is a modified meal distribution next week but we will still have meals, and I’m really excited about the fact that we will still be able to provide meals for all of our families,” Hutchings said.

Spring break ends on Monday, April 13 and students will be expected to resume their studies on Tuesday, April 14.

In the meantime, ACPS is partnering with ALIVE! to provide families with up to four bags of groceries on Saturday, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. in the John Adams Elementary School parking lot [5651 Rayburn Avenue] and at the Leonard “Chick” Armstrong Recreation Center [25 W Reed Avenue].

Otherwise, Hutchings said that he was looking forward to having downtime and not responding to emails for a week.

“I know I’m not going anywhere but in the house, but I’m looking forward to just unplugging and not doing the videos and not responding to emails all day,” he said. “Just taking some downtime that is well needed, and I hope that you all will do the same, that you’ll get some rest.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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After a season as a wintery wonderland, Cameron Run Regional Park is coming back this weekend with springtime activities.

Starting on Saturday (March 14) at 10 a.m., the park (4001 Eisenhower Avenue) will reopen with mini-golf, batting cages and more.

“Come join us as we kick off the Spring season with some outdoor fun!” the park management said in a Facebook post. “Enjoy the batting cages, mini-golf, and climb around Paradise Play starting Sunday, March 14th.”

There will also be opportunities to learn about the local wildlife at the park from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Those looking forward to the reopening of the Great Waves Waterpark will have to wait for Memorial Day weekend (May 23).

Photo via NOVA Parks

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You don’t have to go across the Potomac to enjoy cherry blossom season.

Alexandria’s pink and white blossoms are not as famous and centrally-located as those in D.C., but local tourism group Visit Alexandria put together a list of several cherry blossoms themed events around town.

One is a Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour with Discover Alexandria. Two pop-up tours are planned during peak bloom week, with specifics set to be announced one week in advance. Admission to the tour is $15 per adult, or $8 for children and $12 for military, veterans and students.

“Discover Alexandria’s Cherry Blossom Pop-Up History Tour will occur twice during the week of peak bloom,” Visit Alexandria said in a press release. “The 75-minute tour offers the best of both worlds, combining local history with great cherry blossom sightseeing.”

The National Park Service announced earlier this week that peak bloom for the Tidal Basin’s Yoshino cherry trees was projected as March 27-30.

The tours are scheduled to depart from the Alexandria Visitor Center at 221 King Street.

Other local events include:

  • Cherry Blossom Jubilee at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (March 28): The annual festival is a celebration of cherry blossoms through art, with hands-on activities, performances, and art available on all three levels of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
  • Alexandria Tastes of Spring Cherry Blossom Food Crawl (April 5): A self-guided food tour of Old Town. Tasting tickets can be bought online with $65 for four tastings, $80 for six tastings, and $96 for eight tastings. Each ticket is valid for a sampling at several locations throughout Old Town.
  • Blossom Ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum (May 2): A Regency-era ball with live music, English country dancing, a cash bar and seasonal desserts. Tickets are $45 and Regency or cocktail attire is encouraged. Visit Alexandria suggested in a press release that those not familiar with the style of dancing should complete at least one full lesson before attending.

If you do want to leave Alexandria, there are a few options for cherry blossom related choices. Starting March 1, the water taxi from the Alexandria Marina (1 Cameron Street) to The Wharf will start running at 6:40 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends, with $13 one-way tickets and $21 round-trip tickets.

There is also an electric bike tour that runs from Old Town to the cherry blossoms along East Potomac Park. The trips depart at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. with $69 admission per bike.

Image via Visit Alexandria

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