Editorial: Give Locally in Arlington County

Editorial: Give Locally in Arlington County

School holidays can bring uncertainty and hunger for tens of thousands of poor children in our area.

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 helping those in need, those less fortunate than themselves.

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, about 8,000 (more than 30 percent) of the 23,300 Arlington public school students are are poor enough to receive free or subsidized meals.

The median family income in Arlington rose to $140,838. But among families with children, more than 9 percent have income below the poverty level. That’s $20,420 for a family of three. That’s about $1,700 a month. Median rent in Arlington is more than $1,800, meaning the cost for half the rentals is more than that.

These 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.

— Mary Kimm


In no particular order:

  • 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 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 Partnership for Affordable Housing, Kim Honor Matkovsky, volunteer chair, APAH Holiday Gift Drive, khonor@macrodg.com, 703-624-9583

  • Northern Virginia Family Services, 571-748-2500, www.nvfs.org, Employment and job training, healthcare, housing, mental health, foster care and Healthy Families.

  • Second Story — Abused and Homeless Children's Refuge, 2100 Gallows Road, Vienna, VA 22182. 703-506-9191, second-story.org. Second Story (formerly Alternative House) provides shelter and services for homeless, runaway or abused teenagers, unaccompanied youth, and young mothers and their children.

  • 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. 1100 N Glebe Road, Suite 373, Arlington, VA 22201, 703-591-4968, cause-usa.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/

  • The Community Foundation of Northern Virginia has launched its Permanent Fund campaign, a community endowment which is a forever source to provide critical support for those in need in the Northern Virginia region; Consider leaving a legacy through a current or planned gift to the Permanent Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. www.cfnova.org/permanentfund.

  • The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA 22042, 703-237-0866, lcnv.org, teaches adults to speak, read, write and understand English at the most basic level. The organization has been around for 55 years, and serves Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria. Most of the students are immigrants, and they are mostly women, and low income.

  • Neighborhood Health Clinics www.neighborhoodhealthva.org, Improving health and advance health equity in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax by providing access to high quality care regardless of ability to pay.

  • Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NOVA) helps families build strength, stability, and self-reliance to create better lives for themselves and their children through affordable homeownership. Serving Fairfax and Arlington counties and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church. 295 Edsall Road, Suite 120, Alexandria, VA 22312; phone: 703-521-9890; email: info@habitatnova.org. Visit www.habitatnova.org. Alexandria ReStore: 703.360.6700; Chantilly ReStore: 703.953.3747.