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 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 Alexandria, more than 8,700 students are poor enough to receive free or subsidized meals. That’s almost 60 percent of the slightly more than 15,000 students enrolled.
The city’s estimated median family income rose in 2015 to $109,175.
But among Alexandria’s families with children, 10.7 percent have incomes below the poverty line. That’s $20,420 for a family of three. That’s about $1,700 a month. The median monthly housing cost in Alexandria is over $1,700, meaning the cost for half the housing is more than that. Median rent is $1,555.
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 city 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
Where to Give Locally:
List of Nonprofits in City of Alexandria
- ALIVE! Alexandria; 2723 King St, Alexandria, VA 22302; 703-837-9300, www.alive-inc.org. ALIVE! serves thousands Alexandrians annually with shelter; low-cost early childhood education and childcare; financial help for rent, utilities, medical care and other critical needs; emergency food; and deliveries of donated furniture and houseware.
- Senior Services of Alexandria, 703-836-4414, www.seniorservicesalex.org. Support services for elders enabling them to age with dignity.
- Tahirih Justice Center, 703-575-0070, www.tahirih.org. Legal services, public policy advocacy, and education for immigrant women and girls.
- Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, 703-746-4774, www.alexandriaanimals.org. Pet adoptions, low-cost spay and neuter assistance, education and community service and outreach.
- Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia, 703-820-9001, www.scanva.org. Parent education, public education-re: child abuse and court advocacy for abused and neglected children.
- Rebuilding Together Alexandria, 703-836-1021, www.RebuildingTogetherAlex.org. Home repair and maintenance for vulnerable veterans, elderly, disabled and families with children.
- ACT for Alexandria, 703-739-7778, www.actforalexandria.org. Nonprofit and donor services.
- Alexandria Community Services Board, www.alexandriava.gov/mhmrsa. Crisis intervention services, elderly needs, mental health, substance abuse, mental retardation and developmental disabilities.
- Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless, 703-525-7177, www.aachhomeless.org.
- Carpenter's Shelter, 703 548-7500, www.carpentersshelter.org. Homeless services and programs including education and case management.
- The Campagna Center, 703-549-0111, www.campagnacenter.org.
- Center for Alexandria’s Children, 703-838-4381, www.centerforalexandriaschildren.org. Child abuse and neglect; parent support.
- Child and Family Network Centers, 703-836- 0214, www.cfnc-online.org.
- Community Lodgings, Inc., 703-549-4407. Transitional and affordable housing, youth education, adult education, bilingual staff assistance.
- Computer C.O.R.E. 703-931-7346, www.computercore.org. Adult education, computer training and career development.
- Hopkins House, 703-549-8072, www.hopkinshouse.org. Preschool academy, family budgeting and literacy, family education and youth summer enrichment camp, Early Childhood Learning Institute.
- Northern Virginia Family Services, 703-385-3267, www.nvfs.org. Employment and job training, healthcare, housing, mental health, foster care and Healthy Families.
- Volunteer Alexandria, 123 N Alfred St., Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-836-2176, volunteeralexandria.org. Volunteer recruitment and placement, court-referred community service placement, community awareness events, and volunteer management training. See www.achsova.org.
- Friends of Guest House offers structure, supervision, support and assistance to female ex-offenders who sincerely 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, and receives countless inquiries every year. The Guest House is located at 1 East Luray Ave. Clients may call 703-549-8072 for support 24/7, otherwise visit www.friendsofguesthouse.org.
- Christian Relief Services incorporated in 1985, in Virginia. Through partnership with 14 agencies, Christian Relief Services (CRS) offers up to 24 months of transitional housing, case management and supportive services for homeless people. Around the country CRS operates affordable housing units. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. visit www.christianrelief.org or call 703-317-9086.
- Assistance League of Northern Virginia is an all-volunteer organization that clothes, feeds, educates and nurtures those in need. Working through six elementary schools and Inova Fairfax Hospital, Assistance League touches the lives of some of the most needy in Northern Virginia. The schools involved include Lynbrook Elementary and Garfield Elementary in Springfield, Cora Kelly Elementary in Alexandria and Pine Spring Elementary in Falls Church. Volunteers and donors are always needed. Contact ALNorthernVA@yahoo.com or visit www.northernvirginiaassistanceleague.org.
- Bethany House, 6121 Lincolnia Road #303, Alexandria, VA 22312; 703-658-9500, www.bhnv.org. Bethany House provides emergency shelter and supportive services to victims of domestic violence throughout Northern Virginia and the surrounding D.C. metro communities.
- Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, 703-237-0866, www.lcnv.org. Teaches adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking and understanding English.
- The Community Foundation of Northern Virginia announces the launch of 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. Visit www.cfnova.org/permanentfund.
- 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.
- Wright to Read, 703-299-9854, www.wrighttoread.org. Provides volunteer-based, one-to-one tutoring and mentoring to City of Alexandria public elementary school children in need. Funds are needed to provide field trips and enrichment activities, books and other resources. For more information about Wright to Read and becoming a “Tutor/Mentor” see website.