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 Arlington more than 30 percent of the students are poor enough to receive free or subsidized meals; that’s more than 7,700 students. (Nearly 7 percent of students in Arlington Public Schools live below the poverty line, a harrowing $24,000 for a family of four.)
The poverty is concentrated. The majority of students in six elementary schools are poor enough to receive subsidized meals. In another six elementary schools, less that 6 percent of the students are poor.
All of these are children who are 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.
Many homeless students attend the public schools, and their needs are greater.
Nonprofits in Arlington and Northern Virginia 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to Give Locally in Arlington
In no particular order:
* Arlington Thrive provides one-time, same-day emergency financial assistance to Arlington residents facing a financial crisis, and also has programs to help prevent homelessness. 703-558-0035 www.arlingtonthrive.org
* Doorways for Women and Families provides services to help women out of domestic violence and homelessness toward safe and stable lives, Arlington www.doorwaysva.org 703-504-9400
* The Arlington Food Assistance Center provides supplemental food assistance to Arlington County residents, on average serving 3,500 adults and 1,500 children a week, plus weekend backpacks for about 300 homeless children attending the public schools in Arlington. 2708 South Nelson Street, Arlington, VA 22206 www.afac.org 703-845-8486
* Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, Arlington, 703-521-9890
* Arlington Free Clinic provides medical care for low-income, uninsured adults in Arlington.www.arlingtonfreeclinic.org 2921 11th St. South, Arlington, VA 22204 703-979-1425
* Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless, 703-525-7177, www.aachhomeless.org
* A-SPAN provides services for Arlington’s street homeless. Its mission is to secure permanent housing for one of Arlington’s most vulnerable populations. P.O. Box 100731 Arlington, VA 22210 703-820-4357 www.a-span.org
* Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing APAH Holiday Gift Drive. APAH, Arlington Mill, 901 S. Dinwiddie Street, Arlington VA 22204. Kim Honor Matkovsky, volunteer chair, APAH Holiday Gift Drive, email@example.com, 703-624-9583
* 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.
* Northern Virginia Family Service. $50 provides a complete holiday meal to a family of four. Donate online or via check payable to "NVFS" with "Operation Turkey" on the memo line, or send grocery store gift cards. Northern Virginia Family Service, attn: Holiday Initiatives, 10455 White Granite, Drive, Suite 100, Oakton, VA 22124. Gifting for Families was able to bring some extra holiday cheer to more than 2,000 children in Northern Virginia last year. Monetary contributions and online donations help the most at www.nvfs.org. www.nvfs.org/holidayprograms.