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Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

What a year 2020 has been — highs and lows for everyone — but our community has a need for support for those struggling to pay rent and buy food.

I often see posts about ways to help and, especially at the outset of the holidays, now is a good time to explore some options on where to put your resources should you have any to give. We have A LOT of great organizations around to help, so depending on what speaks to you, I’m offering some options below (which also looks different than in years past). 

One thing I might offer: If you’re looking for a more direct impact in your own community, call your local school and ask if any of the families need help. The front office staff should be able to find out what families are in need at this time. 

If you’re looking for a larger organization to support, check out these options:

Britepaths

In a non-pandemic year, Britepaths offers the option of adopting a family at Thanksgiving where you can bring them food to cook a Thanksgiving meal themselves. However, due to COVID-19, they can’t facilitate the direct delivery of food this year. Therefore, Britepaths is looking for gift card donations for families to go shop for food themselves. Learn more here.

Food For Others

Food For Others distributes food to more than 2,600 local families in need each week. They collect food throughout the year, but especially around Thanksgiving, they need items like cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, pie filling, gravy and canned sweet potatoes. Find out more here.

Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters (BRAWS) (Vienna)

BRAWS was started by a Vienna local, Holly Seibold, to help bring menstrual supplies, underwear and bras to local women and girls in need in the area. They work with school districts, shelters, food pantries and other community organizations. To learn how you can donate supplies and/or funds learn more here.

The Lamb Center

The Lamb Center is a day-time drop-in homeless shelter where individuals can eat, take a shower, do laundry, get housing and job counseling, see a nurse or a dentist, and more — for free. They are accepting donations of cleaning supplies, travel hygiene items, clothing and juice. Get more information here.

Additionally, Vienna’s own Social Burger provides a weekly meal to the Lamb Center, which you can also sponsor. 

SHARE of McLean 

SHARE has a Holiday Celebration, which is their biggest event of the year. They need volunteers as well as donations. You can also sign up to host a food drive to help stock their pantry, which they use to give food and gift cards to families in need. They have in-person volunteer hours, which may involve moving furniture, sorting clothing or restocking the shelves. If you want a more hands-on interaction, you can also greet and register the clients.

Women Giving Back (WGB) (Sterling)

WGB is an organization that supports women and children with the basics to get back on their feet. Please check their site to see what items they need. You can drop them off locally at First Excel Title just outside of Oakton at 3201 Jermantown Road Suite 350 in Fairfax. The store throughout the rest of the year needs clothing, accessories, shoes and kids clothes. Learn more here.

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The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.

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