The dalmation and husky from “Paw Patrol” will be on call at Springfield Town Center (6500 Springfield Mall) tomorrow (Saturday) to give kids a day of fun before school resumes on Aug. 21.
Appearances by the animated dogs Marshall and Everest — or at least people costumed to look like them — are among the attractions promised for the mall’s “Fuel for School” event, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Grand Court near the newly opened Lego Discovery Center.
Other planned festivities include entertainment, games, food, a selfie station, face painting, a balloon twister and notebook decorating.
As suggested by its name, the main goal of the event, however, is to collect donations for the Capital Area Food Bank, which distributes more than 50 million meals annually across the D.C. region.
“The Capital Area Food Bank is a phenomenal organization in the Washington, DC region and we are pleased to partner with them on this effort,” Springfield Town Center Marketing Director Justin Roth said. “Their efforts to combat food insecurity in our communities are commendable, and their location in Lorton, just a short drive from our Center, made partnering with them a no-brainer.”
The nonprofit broke ground on an expansion of its facility at 6833 Hill Park Drive back in May. The new, 43,000-square-foot warehouse will provide additional storage and distribution space, as the need for food assistance remains high in the pandemic’s wake.
Donations will be optional at “Fuel for School,” but the town center encourages attendees to contribute money or an accepted food item:
- Plant Proteins: Canned or dry beans, whole nuts & seeds, or lentils
- Canned Tuna, Salmon, or Chicken in water
- Grains: Brown & White rice, pasta, whole oats, corn & flour tortillas
- Peanut Butter: no hydrogenated oils
- Pantry staples: cooking oils, tea, non-dairy/shelf stable milks
- Canned vegetables: low sodium, no salt added
- Canned fruits in 100% juice
- Whole grain hot and cold cereal containing less than 7g of sugar per serving
- Non-salt spice: e.g. black pepper, cinnamon, garlic powder, etc.
Donors will get a chance to spin a prize wheel.
Approximately 34% of Fairfax County Public Schools students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals, as of Oct. 31, 2022, according to the school system. At some schools, all students can get a free breakfast and lunch after FCPS joined the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) last year.
For anyone looking for other ways to support students as school returns, the Fairfax nonprofit Britepaths is still raising funds for its Back to School supply drive, which will continue until Aug. 31.
As the upcoming school year approaches, many families face the difficult task of purchasing a lengthy list of school supplies when money for housing, food and other life necessities is already stretched thin.
One local organization is working to alleviate this stress for thousands of Fairfax County families.
Fairfax-based nonprofit Britepaths is seeking community donations for its Back to School Drive, which can be made through its website until Aug. 31. Checks, made out to Britepaths, can also be mailed to 3959 Pender Drive, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22030 with “BTS23” as the memo line.
The funds will provide new backpacks and school supplies to 2,500 Fairfax County Public Schools students in need, according to a press release. A donation of $25 will provide supplies and a backpack for one student.
“It is incredible to think about the fact that Fairfax County is one of the five wealthiest counties in the country, and yet one in 14 children in our community lives in poverty,” Britepaths’ Executive Director Lisa Whetzel said. “…Community members who sponsor students in our Back to School campaign are doing so much more than providing supplies and backpacks. They’re helping young people whose lives can be stressful start off the school year with confidence, dignity and the tools they need to succeed.”
Recipients of these supplies include elementary schools — Daniels Run, Eagle View, Providence, Willow Springs, Bailey’s Upper and Glen Forest — as well as high schools like Fairfax, Fairfax Adult, Justice, and Lewis.
Organizations may also choose to sponsor or cosponsor all students at a specific partner school. This year, local car dealership Jim McKay Chevrolet chose to sponsor Willow Springs students.
“Our personal connections to Willow Springs Elementary School and knowledge of the work that Britepaths does made it an easy decision to become a sponsor for Britepaths’ Back to School program,” Jim McKay Chevrolet President Kathy McKay said. “We hope the community will join us in supporting this effort to ensure that students are ready to learn at the start of the school year.”
Britepaths has been supporting Fairfax County and Northern Virginia residents in need since 1984. It aims to “stabilize families with supplemental food and financial assistance” and “build resilience through financial education and workforce development coaching and IT training,” the press release says.
In 2023, the nonprofit assisted 11,000 individuals in over 7,000 households using community funding and volunteer support.
For more information, Britepaths can be reached by phone at 703-273-8829 or by email email@example.com.
Mustang Sally’s (14140 Parke Long Ct A-C) will host a dog adoption and fundraising event on Saturday, Sept. 9 in collaboration with Forever Home, according to a Facebook post.
In honor of the event, Mustang Sally’s will brew a one-of-a-kind beer that will be on sale just for that day. Its name will be chosen by Forever Home, which is currently collecting submissions from the public that can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday (July 22).
Once the beer is named, Forever Home plans to create a web page where community members can pay a small donation fee to enter their dog’s picture into a prize drawing for the chance to have their pooch’s face featured on the label of the specialty beer.
All proceeds from the contest will go back to the dog rescue, though Forever Home representative Patti Stinson noted that exact details have yet to be “finalized.” After submissions close, Forever Home will choose its top five pictures and leave the final choice up to Mustang Sally’s.
For every four-pack of beer sold, Mustang Sally’s will donate a portion of the sales to Forever Home, Mustang Sally’s spokesperson Eric Javage told FFXnow. Javage also hinted that the limited beer would likely be a hazy IPA because “everyone likes a good IPA.”
In addition, event attendees will have the opportunity to meet and apply for ownership of Forever Home’s foster dogs on site. Stinson says Forever Home’s goal is to process all paperwork and send each dog home with its new owner within a week of an application submission.
For Mustang Sally’s, this joint initiative joins a long lineup of what Javage affectionately dubs “Yappy Hour” events. Just around the corner on Saturday, July 22, Mustang Sally’s will host a similarly structured dog adoption event with local animal rescue organization Mutt Love.
Javage, the proud owner of a rescue dog from Fairfax County Animal Shelter, told FFXnow that he has made it Mustang Sally’s mission to partner with at least one new local animal shelter every month.
Unsurprisingly, then, Stinson credits Javage for initiating the partnership and being “fabulous” in handling most of the leg work setting up the event.
Javage plans to continue using the brewery to “give out more brand awareness” to small, community-oriented organizations around Northern Virginia, he says.
“Our big vision is to use Mustang as a vehicle to help the community,” Javage said. Read More
The McLean Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) will soon get a new and improved ambulance, thanks in part to the success of a recent “Kitchen and Garden Tour.”
The Woman’s Club of McLean, a local charitable group, presented a check with the $13,000 raised by the tour to the fire department on Monday (June 19), fulfilling a promise that got deferred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think most of us have had the benefit of calling the fire department,” Women’s Club member Kay Burnell said, recalling one time when her husband got ill and collapsed. “…Most of us have had an experience with them where there’s a fire or an accident, so we just felt we needed to support them and say thank you to them.”
Organized by co-chairs Burnell, Karen Moore and Silke Soff, the Kitchen and Garden Tour on April 27 gave community members a chance to explore the kitchens and gardens of houses on Ballantrae Farm Drive and Countryside Court at Holyrood Drive.
The Woman’s Club, which was founded in 1958, had organized a kitchen and garden tour just once before to raise money for veteran housing at the retirement community Vinson Hall, according to Burnell. The concept was revived this year as an alternative to the usual Holiday Homes Tour fundraiser, which has been on hold during the pandemic.
The pandemic also delayed MVFD’s 100-year anniversary celebration, which got pushed from 2021 to 2022. The Woman’s Club had planned a fundraiser for the department in 2020 to support the festivities.
“Because of the pandemic we were unable to raise the money,” Burnell said. “This year we tried again and happily were able to make good on our promise of 2020.”
The change in timing turned out to be fortuitous for the fire department, which is looking to add a fire engine after acquiring the new ambulance.
With a total price tag of $335,000, the ambulance is expected to arrive later this summer or early fall, according to MVFD President Patricia Moynihan. The department also raised funds through donations, Christmas ornament sales and other activities, including taking out a loan.
Replacing one of the department’s two ambulances, the new vehicle will be a “state-of-the-art piece of apparatus,” Moynihan says.
“We’re super excited and I know the ladies have worked really hard on this, and so we’re really appreciative,” she told FFXnow.
According to MVFD Emergency Medical Services Captain Lynn Clancy, one of the biggest improvements will be the addition of a power load cot system.
“We are always looking to improve safety and this system will use mechanical lifting to move the stretcher into and out of the ambulance,” Clancy said. “It is safer for the EMT/Paramedics and the patients. Back injuries are the biggest career-ending injuries in EMS. Additionally, under our capital equipment replacement plan, it is time to replace one of the existing, heavily-used vehicles, which is becoming unreliable.”
The new engine will cost about $500,000, half of which will be covered by Fairfax County, Moynihan says. The volunteer fire department hasn’t started fundraising for its half of the costs yet, though the Woman’s Club likely won’t be as involved as it was for the ambulance.
According to Burnell, the organization typically gives equal amounts to the different charities it supports, so another big fundraiser for the MVFD isn’t in the works.
However, a repeat of the Kitchen and Garden Tour may be on the table for next year. After experiencing a decline during the pandemic, the Women’s Club has seen an uptick in members since this year’s tour, which Burnell says “was such a festive day and was so well-received.”
Those who miss the traditional Holiday Homes Tour, which saw volunteers decorate houses in McLean for participants to visit, can rest assured that the club feels the same way.
“We’ve done it for over 55 years. So, we’re very hopeful that we can do that,” Burnell said. “If we can’t, then probably we will do this kitchen garden tour as our main fundraiser.”
Photo courtesy MVFD
Fairfax County Public Library’s annual food drive “Read and Feed” is now underway, replacing the “Food for Fines” program.
The county library system is asking residents to drop off “unexpired, commercially produced food items” as well as new, reusable grocery bags and kitchen tools to any of its 23 branches during their regular operating hours.
Last year, “Read and Feed” replaced the “Food for Fines” program after FCPL stopped charging overdue fines on most materials. The program had given library cardholders a reduction on fines based on the number of donated items.
Donations go to the nonprofit Food For Others (FFO), which will then distribute the items across the county. Food For Others provides food to about 3,000 families and meals to 3,500 FCPS students at 44 schools every week, per the county’s press release.
That represents only a small percentage of students in need, though. There are another 13 schools on the waitlist.
There was about a 30% increase in terms of families that FFO helped between 2021 and 2022, FFO’s director of development and outreach Anna Slaten said in a county press release.
It’s anticipated that inflation over the past year will make the need even greater. Relatedly, donations in the summer of 2022 were down 30% from the previous year.
“With inflation, not just our clients are feeling the effects, but our donors are also,” Slaten said.
Additionally, pandemic-era emergency SNAP benefits ended last month, leaving locals looking for even more help.
FFO recently expanded its Merrifield warehouse to address the growing need.
Library branches across the county are accepting pretty much all canned foods, though there are a few items that FFO needs in particular:
- Canned tomato products (crushed, peeled, diced, etc.), 4 oz. – 1 lb.
- Canned meat (chicken, turkey, or seafood), 2 oz. – 15 oz.
- Rice, 16 oz. packages
- Spaghetti sauce, 14 oz. – 1 lb. (ideally in cans instead of glass)
- Canned fruit (packed in fruit juice instead of syrup) 11 oz. – 20 oz.
- Dried or canned beans (black, kidney, pinto, etc.)
- Fruit juice (100% juice) 32 oz. – 64 oz.
- New or clean reusable grocery bags
- Can openers
Items not accepted include food that is not labeled, food that’s cooked, opened items, and canned food that is more than three years past its expiration date.
Northern Virginia leaders are taking steps to assist victims of the earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria in early February.
In an effort organized by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), elected leaders plan to announce a local aid program to collect funds that will be used to purchase food packages for those affected by the disaster.
In a release, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said the profound loss of life in Turkey and Syria is heartbreaking.
”But I’m proud to be a part of a community that rallies together to help those in need both regionally and internationally,” McKay said.
The goal is to raise $25,000, according to NVRC Executive Director Robert Lazaro Jr. The money will be used to purchase more than eight tons of food. Each package contains 30 pounds of food and costs $45.
“We are working with [the nongovernmental organization Embrace Relief] that is purchasing food packages in Turkey which in turn are distributed to area residents,” Lazaro said in a release.
NVRC Chair John Chapman said residents and businesses have always stepped up to help those in need. Previously, the region collaborated on a winter clothes drive that sent tons of blankets, coats, socks and gloves to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.
“This time is no different. I urge folks to visit the website to make a donation to provide food to those families tragically impacted by the earthquake,” said Chapman.
Members of Fairfax County’s Virginia Task Force 1 search and rescue team were deployed to Turkey and Syria after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit on Feb. 6, killing thousands of people and displacing millions. As of yesterday (Wednesday), the death toll reached roughly 51,000 people.
The task force, which was part of a national response team assembled by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), returned to Fairfax County on Feb. 20 after 11 days of searching for survivors.
Leaders will officially announce the program at the Fairfax County Government Center Forum on Friday (March 3) at 3 p.m. In the meantime, the commission has set up a link to collect donations for the victims.
Photo via VA-TF1/Twitter
The first Food for Neighbors collection and sorting event of the year got help from a variety of local and regional groups — including the German General Armed Forces Command, an organization that has called Reston home since 1991.
The organization took part in the event at Herndon Middle School — Food for Neighbors’ original collection site — and presented the organization with a donation of more than $4,000 dollars.
The funds will go toward helping fight food insecurity among teens in 37 Northern Virginia schools.
“From the very first moment the German Armed Forces Command USA and Canada moved its office to Reston in April 1991, the soldiers, civilians and all their families felt heartily welcome in this great community. For all of us it is an irrefutable fact that we have found a home away from home,” Colonel Joerg Dronia wrote in a statement.
The organization’s founder and executive director Karen Joseph said the donation reflects the armed forces’ desire to be good neighbors.
“We are one of many organizations that have benefited from their generosity, and we thank them for all that they do to help our most vulnerable community members,” she wrote in a statement.
Sites in Fairfax, Loudoun and Arlington counties sorted over 19,000 pounds of food donations that came from over 1,500 households, according to Food for Neighbors, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing student hunger.
“Fairfax County works very hard to help our most vulnerable population with food insecurity,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said. “However, we couldn’t do it without the tremendous efforts of our nonprofit partners such as Food For Neighbors. Congratulations on your success in helping our teens.”
The event was also attended by Town of Herndon Mayor Sheila Olem.
Winter is coming, and with temperatures projected to top out in the 30s and low 40s next week, staying warm will soon become even more of a challenge for many Fairfax County residents.
To help those in need get through the season, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s office will launch a winter clothes drive today (Monday), collecting coats, gloves and hats of all sizes for donation to local shelters.
New and gently used items are being accepted until Jan. 19 at the Providence District Office (3001 Vaden Drive), which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A flyer says additional drop-off locations will be shared, but as of press time, the office was still waiting to confirm the other sites, including one at Tysons Corner Center.
“Holding donation drives is an opportunity for people to get involved and give back to the community,” Palchik said in an emailed statement. “What some may deem as a small donation is a big help to those in need. The collected winter gear will be donated not only to our unsheltered community members but also those who may not be able to afford them.”
For the drive, Palchik’s office has teamed up with the Providence Community Center, local homeowners’ associations, and the Tysons Community Alliance, which was formed in October to replace the Tysons Partnership as a nonprofit organization that advocates for the area and guides its evolution.
Recipients of the winter clothing donations will include The Lamb Center, a shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness located on the border of Oakton and Fairfax, and Tysons-based Second Story, which focuses on helping kids, teens and families.
While this drive will support Providence District residents, including Tysons, Oakton, Merrifield and the area around Fairfax, the North County Government Center will host a final drop-off date for Reston’s annual Winter Coat Closet on Jan. 14.
Photo via Eli Pluma/Unsplash
A church in McLean and an orchestra based in Tysons have teamed up to do their part to assist humanitarian relief efforts in Ukraine.
The concert will feature soprano singer Mandy Brown, violinist Emil Chudnovsky, and pianist Tatiana Loisha as well as the VCO String Quartet.
They will primarily perform classical music, including works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Joseph Haydn, and Antonín Dvořák, but Rogers and Hammerstein also appear. The program closes with “Shche ne vmerta Ukraina,” the national anthem of Ukraine.
While the concert is free to attend, the church will accept donations that will be used to provide medical supplies in Ukraine, according to VCO.
“The Virginia Chamber Orchestra is very pleased to partner with the McLean Baptist Church in presenting a Benefit Concert to provide medical supplies for the people of Ukraine,” VCO Board of Trustees President Douglas Lovejoy said in an emailed statement. “We welcome everyone to the concert and will appreciate your donations.”
Since Russian military forces invaded Ukraine in February, more than 15,000 civilian casualties have been recorded by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of Monday (Oct. 10), though the organization believes the actual numbers of deaths and injuries are much higher.
Like in other communities across the U.S., acts of solidarity and support for Ukraine have become common in Fairfax County, from a regional winter coat drive and a fundraiser by local breweries to symbolic displays of the eastern European country’s blue-and-yellow flag.
The full program for Sunday’s benefit concert in McLean is below:
- “Sheep May Safely Graze” by Johann Sebastian Bach — VCO String Quartet
- “Uzun Hava” by Osman Kivrak — for violin and viola
- Selections from “44 Duets” by Béla Bartók, including Ruthenian songs from Ukraine
- “Allegro from Quartet in F Major, Op. 96 ‘American'” by Antonín Dvořák — VCO String Quartet
- “Polonaise Brilliante in D Major” by Henryk Wieniawski — Emil Chudnovsky, violin
- “Chanson d’amour” by Jan Tarasiewicz — Tatiana Loisha, piano
- “L’invitation au voyage” by Henri Duparc — Mandy Brown, soprano
- “The Winds are Blowing,” a Ukrainian folksong by Mykola Lysenko — Mandy Brown, soprano
- “Introduction” and “Rondo Capriccioso” by Camille Saint-Saëns — Emil Chudnovsky violin
- “Nocturne in C Sharp Minor” by Frédéric Chopin — Emil Chudnovsky, violin
- “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel” by Rodgers & Hammerstein — Mandy Brown, soprano
- “Shche ne vmerta Ukraina” by Chubynsky/Verbytsky
Continuing a tradition set by former Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins, an annual winter coat closet will return to Reston from Oct. 17 through Nov. 10.
Conducted in a partnership with nonprofit Cornerstones, the drive will provide residents with free winter hats, coats, gloves, mittens and scarves.
Residents are encouraged to drop off new and gently-used coats and new hats, gloves, mittens and scarves to Cornerstones or Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn’s office.
“Several years ago my predecessor Supervisor Cathy Hudgins joined forces with Cornerstones to ensure that our neighbors in need of warm winter coats would be able to get one. We continue that tradition of neighbors helping neighbors this year with the upcoming opening of the Winter Coat Closet,” Alcorn wrote in a newsletter on Wednesday (Oct. 12).
For the duration of the drive, residents can drop off items at Cornerstones (11150 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 210) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a drop-off site at the North County Government Center on Nov. 19, Dec. 17 and Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Residents can drop by one of several dates throughout the winter to pick up items. In cases of inclement weather, distribution will happen indoors.