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 Christmas and the holiday season.
Hundreds of homeless students attend the public schools, and their needs are greater.
Many nonprofits in the region need your help to provide holiday meals around Christmas, to provide children with gifts.
There are literally hundreds, probably thousands, of ways to give locally this season, for humans in need, for animals in need, for an environment in need. Here are a few ideas. Please let us know what we have missed.
— Mary Kimm, email@example.com
Where to Give Locally
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.alnv.org
- Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Fairfax Area operates clubs in two of the neediest areas of the county, Culmore, Mount Vernon/ Route 1 corridor, and Chantilly, focusing on character and academic success. https://www.bgcgw.org/club-page/fairfax-county-region-our-impact/
- Britepaths Britepaths is working to assist 500 Fairfax County area families who might otherwise go without holiday meals and gifts for their children. Sponsor a family or donate to provide a family with a holiday meal and/or gifts for their children. Britepaths.org https://britepaths.org/our-programs/holiday-program
- Centreville Immigration Forum, a safe, organized center where residents and contractors can negotiate work arrangements with day laborers. Centreville Square Shopping Center, 5944 Centreville Crest Ln, Centreville, VA 20121. Phone: (703) 543-6272
website: www.centrevilleimmigrationforum.org and email contact@theCIFva.org
- Closet Of The Greater Herndon Area is a nonprofit thrift shop in the heart of historic downtown Herndon. When you donate, volunteer and shop at The Closet, you help us give to the local community. The Closet recently awarded over $20,000 in grants to seven local non-profit organizations: Cornerstones, Fellowship Square, Herndon-Reston FISH, Meridians Recovery, Mobile Hope of Loudoun, South Lakes High School PTSA Food Pantry, and Herndon Woman’s Club in support of Wreaths Across America. We continue to be a source of low-cost clothing and household necessities for families and individuals on a tight budget. We also give away clothing at no cost to truly needy individuals. 845 Station Street Herndon, VA 20170 (703) 437-7652. Email TheClosetInc@verizon.net Web: theclosetofgreaterherndon.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
- 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
- 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 www.cfnova.org/for-donors/donate-now
- 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, 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/donations/drives/gifts-for-kids/. We will be accepting personalized wish list donations for the 2019 Gifts for Kids Drive at our main office, 11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210, Reston, VA 20190, on the following schedule: Thursday and Friday, Dec. 5-6: 9 AM to 6 PM; Saturday, Dec. 7: 9 AM to 12 noon. Contact Nate King, Donations and Drives Coordinator, at 571-323-9569.
- 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. We want to provide a happy Christmas for 600 children whose families struggle economically. We need donations of new toys, games and books, not gift wrapped, brought to ECHO before Dec. 8 www.echo-inc.org.
- 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. Please donate a basket of non-perishable food and a $25 grocery store gift card (so the recipient may purchase the perishable items needed to complete their mea). Please drop off your donations of Thanksgiving food baskets and gift cards by Friday, Nov. 22. Donations will be accepted at FACETS’ main office (10700 Page Avenue, Building B, Fairfax VA 22030) between 9am – 5pm. Contact Haylee Davis at email@example.com. 703-865-4251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.facetscares.org. 10640 Page Ave., Suite 300, Fairfax VA 22030
- 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. 703-222-0880 fairfaxfish.org/
- Food for Others Located at 2938 Prosperity Ave., Fairfax, VA 22031, 703-207-9173. 2938 Prosperity Ave. email@example.com. Food for Others distributes food to more than 1,800 local families in need each week. Drop off food at our Merrifield Warehouse, 2938 Prosperity Ave, Fairfax, VA 22031. Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 5pm. The best time is between 2pm and 5pm. Park in a space, walk up to loading dock #2 and let one of the warehouse staff members know you have a donation. Holiday wish list: stuffing, gravy packets, instant potatoes, canned sweet potatoes, pie, canned cranberries, canned meat (tuna, chicken, beef, turkey) peanut butter, canned tomato products (chopped, diced, peeled), canned pumpkin, soup, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce; cereal, cans of beans, mac & cheese. www.foodforothers.org
- Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Each year, nearly 5,000 pets, including cats, dogs, small mammals, reptiles and livestock, come to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter funds important needs throughout the Shelter such as behavioral training and dental or medical care beyond what the shelter’s budget can provide. firstname.lastname@example.org 571-212-9858 www.ffcas.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, email@example.com, 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.
- 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.
- Homestretch, to empower homeless parents with children to attain permanent housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge and hope they need to become productive participants in the community. Since 1990 Homestretch has helped over 2,000 families achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency. 303 South Maple Ave, Suite 400, Falls Church, VA 22046 Phone: 703-237-2035 homestretchva.org
- Lamb Center, www.thelambcenter.org, day center for homeless, Fairfax 703-691-3178.
- LINK, serving Herndon, Chantilly, Loudoun and more. On Dec, 14th we will provide clients with food and new toys for children newborn through 16 years of age. When funds allow, grocery gift cards are also included. firstname.lastname@example.org. 703-437-1776 www.linkagainsthunger.org.
- Lorton Community Action Center (LCAC) will provide holiday assistance to hundreds of families. There is still time to help for Thanksgiving, Christmas food baskets along with fulfilling gift wishes for children and teens will help low-income families. See website for warm coat donation details and volunteer needs. https://lortonaction.org/2019-thanksgiving-outreach/
- Mount Vernon At Home, 703-303-4060, www.mountvernonathome.org. 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. The group fundraises all year to make this possible and count on the generosity of the community.
- NAMI Northern Virginia (National Alliance on Mental Illness) works to raise awareness and provide education, advocacy, and support programs for people living with mental illness, families, students, educators, law enforcement, and the public throughout our neighborhoods. Many excellent programs. NAMI Northern Virginia serves Fairfax, Falls Church, Arlington, Alexandria, and Loudoun www.nami-northernvirginia.org/ HelpLine: (571)458.7310, Email: email@example.com
- National Capital Food Bank, 6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, serving all of Northern Virginia, (571) 482-4770. www.capitalareafoodbank.org
- 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
- New Hope Housing, ends homelessness in Northern Virginia by providing housing, offering hope, and building community. We currently offer various Housing Programs, and Support Services. 8407E Richmond Hwy., Alexandria, VA 22309 www.newhopehousing.org/how-to-help/donate/
- 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
- OAR rebuilds lives and breaks the cycle of crime with opportunities, alternatives, and resources for offenders and their families to create a safer community. 10640 Page Ave., Suite 250, Fairfax, VA 22030, 703-246-3033. OAR needs volunteers and financial donations. oarnova.org/donate
- 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/
- 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
- Potomac Riverkeeper Network works to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams; to stop pollution to promote safe drinking water; to protect healthy river habitats; and to enhance public use and enjoyment. 3070 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007. (202) 888-2037 www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org
- Potomac River Conservancy, 8403 Colesville Road, Suite 805, Silver Spring, MD 20910, 301.608.1188 potomac.org, seeks to improve the Potomac River’s water quality by building an impassioned base of river advocates to impart change at the local level.
- PRS, Inc. is a non profit providing mental health, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Seeking to change and save lives in our community by empowering hope, safety, recovery, wellness, independence and community integration.. PRS also provides crisis counseling and connection to supports CRISISLINK When crisis calls, we answer 24/7 Call: 800-273-TALK  Text: "CONNECT" to 85511
- 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.
- SHARE of McLean, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff. We are supported by donations from local religious congregations, community organizations and individuals. Our food and clothing room is housed is space donated by the McLean Baptist Church. Our year round and seasonal programs include family emergency financial assistance, food pantry, used clothing room, recycled furniture, back-to-school supplies and refurbished laptop computers. During the holidays, we also provide our neighbors in need with grocery cards and gifts. Main Message Center: (703) 229-1414 firstname.lastname@example.org Mail: Share, Inc. P.O. Box 210 McLean, VA 22101 Food and Clothing Room: McLean Baptist Church, 1367 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, VA 22101 www.shareofmclean.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. It is our mission to get families back into stable housing in order to provide them the opportunity to continue their journey to self-sufficiency. www.shelterhouse.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
- Tahirih Justice Center, 703-575-0070, www.tahirih.org, Legal services, public policy advocacy, and education for immigrant women and girls.
- TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, 3033 Wilson Blvd., Third Floor, Arlingotn, VA 22201, Call 24/7 800-959-TAPS (8277) The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors offers compassionate care and resources to all those grieving the loss of a military loved one. Make a donation to support surviving military families and loved ones. You can also make a gift in honor or memory of a loved one. www.taps.org/donate
- Touching Heart in Herndon is a nonprofit organization focused on how to enlighten, excite, and educate children about how they can experience the true joy that comes from helping those in need. www.touchingheart.com, 703-901-7355.
- United Community, Mount Vernon, 703-768-7106, 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA 22306 assists low-income families and individuals living along the Route 1 Corridor, UC 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. Help a child in need celebrate the holidays by donating to the United Community Holiday Gift Room by Monday, Dec. 9. Items should be for children ages 0-17. No time to shop for gifts? Make a Financial Contribution to support the Holiday Gift Room 7511 Fordson Road, Alexandria VA 22306. www.ucmagency.org Donations of cash/checks and gift cards are also welcome.
- Western Fairfax Christian Ministries — 4511 Daly Drive, Suite J, Chantilly, VA 20151 in Chantilly. email Assistant Food Pantry Manager/Volunteer Coordinator Debbie Culbertson at email@example.com and put Holiday Food in the subject line. wfcmva.org/