Opinion: Editorial: Give Locally in Fairfax County

For tens of thousands of poor children and families in our area, uncertainty and need are distant from the celebrations and plenty that so many of us associate with this holiday period.

The holidays are about giving, and giving thanks. The holidays are about children and family. The holidays are about sharing, about joy. The holidays are about being thankful and about faith and appreciation. The holidays are about alleviating suffering for others.

Northern Virginia is among the wealthiest areas in the country. Many if not most of us go through our daily and seasonal routines without encountering evidence of the needy families among us.

In Fairfax County Public Schools, more than 54,000 students (29 percent) are poor enough to receive subsidized meals.

Many are children living in families who may be on the brink of homelessness, families who must choose between medical bills, car repair, heat and food. Some of these are children who may not be sure that they will have a meal between the meals they get in school.

School holidays can bring uncertainty and hunger, a far cry from the celebrations, gifts and plenty that we associate with Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Hundreds of homeless students attend the public schools, and their needs are greater.

Many nonprofits in the county need your help to provide a holiday meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas, to provide children with gifts.

There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of ways to give locally this season. Here are a few ideas. We will rerun this list again after Thanksgiving, so please let us know what we have missed.

— Mary Kimm, mkimm@connectionnewspapers.com

Where to Give Locally

List of Nonprofits in Fairfax County

  • Cornerstones, 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210, Reston, serving Reston and Herndon. 571-323-9555, www.cornerstonesva.org.

Nonprofit providing support and advocacy for those in need of food, shelter, affordable housing, quality childcare, and other human services. Programs and services include the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, Emergency Food Pantry, Hypothermia Prevention Program, Thanksgiving Food Drive, Gifts for Kids and annual Coat Drive.

For families in need, often there isn’t enough money to spend on gifts. To register for the Gifts for Kids drive, visit https://www.cornerstonesva.org/gifts-for-kids-donation-form/. Personalized wish lists will be distributed within two business days of your submission.

Gifts will be collected at Cornerstones’ main office, 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210, Reston, VA 20190, during the following times:

Thursday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 7: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 8: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Contact Nate King, Donations and Drives Coordinator, at 571-323-9569.

  • SHARE of McLean operates a food pantry; provides assistance to families to avoid eviction, keep utilities on and meet other needs in a crisis. Share of McLean will provide holiday assistance to hundreds of needy families this year. In December, Share’s families will be welcomed to a festive party, served a light meal, and Santa will travel all the way from the North Pole to take photographs with the children. Help Share help those in need by fulfilling a wish or donating Walmart, Target, Giant, or Safeway gift cards. Contact ShareWishes@gmail.com for more information. Visit www.shareofmclean.org for more info about Share.
  • Herndon-Reston FISH (Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help), 336 Victory Drive, Herndon, 703-391-0105 herndonrestonfish.org Herndon-Reston FISH has assisted local residents in short-term crises by since 1969. 703-437-0600.
  • The Community Foundation of Northern Virginia www.cfnova.org The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia works to respond to critical need and seed innovation in our region. Your gift helps us make grants in our focus areas of interest while also bringing a spotlight on the benefits of community philanthropists
  • LINK, serving Herndon, Chantilly, Loudoun and more. Every year the goal is to provide each family with a week’s worth of non-perishable food in November and again in December. When funds allow, grocery gift cards are also included. In November, clients also receive a voucher for coats and warm clothing. In December, children 16 and under receive gifts. holiday@linkagainsthunger.org. 703-437-1776 www.linkagainsthunger.org.
  • Committee for Helping Others (CHO), Vienna, organized in 1969 by a group of churches and individuals in the Dunn Loring, Merrifield, Oakton, Vienna community to provide simple, loving charity to those in need. Coming up, holiday bike drive. 703-281-7614, www.cho-va.com
  • Our Neighbor's Child (ONC) volunteers are preparing for delivery of holiday gifts for children from financially struggling families in western Fairfax County – predominantly in Centreville and Chantilly. www.ourneighborschild.org/
  • Northern Virginia Family Service. The organization provides the essential building blocks for financial, emotional and physical well-being, serving as leaders and innovators for the Northern Virginia community. Every year, it empowers 35,000 individuals to achieve self-sufficiency. www.nvfs.org Northern Virginia Family Service, 10455 White Granite, Drive, Suite 100, Oakton, VA 22124. 571-748-2500
  • Second Story — Second Story (formerly Alternative House) provides shelter and services for homeless, runaway or abused teenagers, unaccompanied youth, and young mothers and their children. second-story.org.
  • Shepherd’s Center of Oakton Vienna providing services, personal enrichment, volunteer opportunities for adults 50 and over. Currently serving 3,000-plus mature adults in the region. 703-281-0538, www.scov.org
  • Touching Heart in Herndon is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate children to have giving hearts. www.touchingheart.com, 703-901-7355.
  • Western Fairfax Christian Ministries — food pantry at 13981 Metrotech Drive in Chantilly. For more information or to sponsor a family, call 703-988-9656, ext. 105. To mail gift cards or send donations by check, add a note saying "food basket program" and send them to: WFCM, P.O. Box 220802, Chantilly, VA 20153. 703-988-9656.
  • FACETS helps parents, their children and individuals who suffer the effects of poverty in the Fairfax area, a partner in efforts to end homelessness in Fairfax County. FACETS is always in need of donations and volunteers, and offers a variety of one-time and ongoing opportunities. 703-865-4251 or volunteer@facetscares.org. www.facetscares.org. 10640 Page Ave., Suite 300, Fairfax VA 22030
  • Britepaths Britepaths is working to assist 800 Fairfax County area families who might otherwise go without with Thanksgiving meals, December holiday meals and gifts for their children in December. Sponsor a family or donate to provide a family with a holiday meal and/or gifts for their children. britepaths.org
  • Fairfax City Area FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help) FISH provides funds and volunteers to serve the needy and elderly in the greater Fairfax City area of Fairfax County. FISH responds to requests for life's necessities: food, clothing, financial assistance for delinquent rent, mortgage, utility bills, gasoline, and prescriptions. Requests for assistance are passed on to FISH by the Office of Coordinated Services Planning 703-222-0880 fairfaxfish.org/
  • Lamb Center, www.thelambcenter.org, day center for homeless, Fairfax 703-691-3178.
  • Food for Others Located at 2938 Prosperity Ave., Fairfax, VA 22031, 703-207-9173. 2938 Prosperity Ave. info@foodforothers.org. Most needed items include: Fresh fruits (oranges, apples, bananas, tomatoes, avocados, grapes, berries), Fresh vegetables (cucumbers, celery, peppers, lettuce, eggplant), Canned chili, Canned tomato products (crushed, peeled, diced, etc.), Canned meat (chicken, beef, turkey, or seafood), Rice, 16 oz packages, Spaghetti sauce, 14 oz – 1lb (ideally in cans instead of glass), Canned fruit (packed in fruit juice instead of syrup) 11oz – 20oz, Beans, dried or canned (black, kidney, pinto, etc.), Canned pasta. www.foodforothers.org
  • Ecumenical Community Helping Others (ECHO), 703-569-9160. Open to receive donations at 7205 Old Keene Mill Road, Springfield. Provides food and financial assistance to those in short-term emergencies, and provides clothing and household goods to low income families. Outerwear drive through Dec. 14. See Greater Springfield Chamber for drop off locations. www.echo-inc.org.
  • Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) will provide Thanksgiving and holiday assistance to hundreds of families. Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets along with fulfilling gift wishes for children and teens will help low-income families. See website for warm coat and Christmas donations and volunteer needs. lortonaction.org/seasonal-assistance/.
  • Assistance League of Northern Virginia is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that feeds, clothes and educates children in need. Assistance League’s philanthropic programs touch the lives of thousands of children at 11 Title I schools in Northern Virginia, serving children most in need at selected schools in Fairfax and Prince William counties and the City of Alexandria. To learn more about volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, contact alnorthernva@gmail.com or visit www.northernvirginia.assistanceleague.org
  • Comfort for America's Uniformed Services (CAUSE) ensures that recuperating service members have opportunities for recreation and social interaction and receive concrete signs of appreciation for all that they have done. Mailing address: 4201 Wilson Blvd., #110-284, Arlington, VA 22203, CFC #33011, Phone 703-591-4965, cause-usa.org
  • Shelter House provides crisis intervention, safe housing and supportive services to promote self-sufficiency for homeless families and victims of domestic violence in Fairfax County. www.shelterhouse.org
  • United Community Ministries, Mount Vernon, 703-768-7106, 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA 22306 assists low-income families and individuals living along the Route 1 Corridor, UCM provides housing programs as well as a Workforce Development Center. Last year, for the holidays, donations of nearly 10,000 toys, books, games, clothing, and other gifts ensured a joy-filled holiday for hundreds of children. 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria VA 22306. www.ucmagency.org

Donations of cash/checks and gift cards are also welcome.

  • Mount Vernon At Home, 703-303-4060, www.mountvernonathome.org. From practical help to social, wellness, educational and cultural activities, Mount Vernon At Home membership helps connect senior members of our community. Neighbors helping neighbors with volunteer support is the power of Mount Vernon At Home. Mount Vernon At Home is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to meet the needs of its older members. The group fundraises all year to make this possible and count on the generosity of the community.
  • National Capital Food Bank, 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, serving all of Northern Virginia, 703-541-3063. www.capitalareafoodbank.org
  • Homestretch is a provider of transitional housing in Fairfax County and offers a services to help the homeless better their lives through education. Email: jhenderson@homestretchva.org; 703-237-2035 x125; homestretchva.org/volunteer/
  • Pathway Homes providing non-time-limited housing and supportive services to adults with serious mental illness and co-occurring disabilities in Northern Virginia. Founded in 1980, Pathways currently serves more than 400 adults in community-based homes in Northern Virginia. www.pathwayhomes.org
  • Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, 8305-17B Richmond Highway, PO Box 15096, Alexandria, VA, 22039. 703-768-9419, www.goodhousing.org/ The mission of Good Shepherd Housing (GSH) is to reduce homelessness, increase community support, and promote self-sufficiency. GSH housing manages more than 70 housing units.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Fairfax Area operates clubs in two of the neediest areas of the county, Culmore and Mount Vernon/ Route 1 corridor, focusing on character and academic success. www.bgcgw.org/fairfax
  • Christian Relief Services, 8301 RIchmond Highway, Suite 900, Alexandria, VA 22309, 703-317-9086, 703-317-9690 christianrelief.org/
  • Friends of Guest House Northern Virginia offers structure, supervision, support and assistance to female ex-offenders who want to improve their lives and break the cycle of incarceration. Friends of Guest House offers the only program for women of its kind in Northern Virginia. One East Luray Ave., Alexandria, VA 22301-2025, 703-549-8072, info@friendsofguesthouse.org, friendsofguesthouse.org/
  • Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia transforms the lives of lower-income families in need by providing affordable homeownership opportunities in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax and Falls Church. Learn more at www.habitatnova.org.
  • Alice's Kids (@alicewillhelp) aliceskids.org P.O. Box 60, Mount Vernon, VA 22121 When a child is raised in poverty they suffer both publicly and privately. When there is no food in the refrigerator, no electricity nor heat, these are hardships that they can keep hidden from their peers. But, when that same child can't afford to pay for the band field trip, a pair of glasses, a chorus outfit or a new pair of shoes, these are indignities that are evident to their classmates. Alice’s Kids pays for these relatively inexpensive items in the hopes of preserving the dignity of the child. It helps children from all over the Mount Vernon area through small acts of kindness.
  • Neighborhood Health, 6677 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22306. The organization partners with its patients to treat the whole person through medical, behavioral health and dental programs. It has 10 clinics throughout Arlington and Fairfax counties. Participating with all insurance including commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid, 703-535-5568, www.neighborhoodhealthva.org
  • Tahirih Justice Center, 703-575-0070, www.tahirih.org, Legal services, public policy advocacy, and education for immigrant women and girls.

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