A Stuff the Bus food drive this weekend will give Tysonians several opportunities to contribute to some of their neighbors in need.
Fairfax County has typically held Stuff the Bus food drives — where volunteers contribute food to those in need — twice a year. But the pandemic and economic downturn has left more in need than usual, so the county is holding more Stuff the Bus events than usual.
Stuff the Bus food drives in May collected 33.6 tons of food for local non-profits to distribute over two days.
This Saturday, Sept. 26, buses will be parked at 21 locations throughout the county from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to collect donations.
Locations close to Tysons this weekend are:
- McLean Government Center (1437 Balls Hill Road)
- Patrick Henry Library (101 Maple Avenue East)
- Providence District Supervisor’s Office (3001 Vaden Drive)
- James Lee Community Center (2855 Annandale Road)
The buses will be parked in less frequently used lots to avoid crowding.
The County included a list of frequently requested items from non-profits:
- Canned Tuna, Salmon or Chicken
- Canned Pasta
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Canned Fruit (in light syrup or juice)
- Peanut Butter
- Bag (Dry) Beans
- Rice – Brown or White
- Instant Potatoes
- Canned Tomatoes
- Pancake Mix
- Pancake Syrup
- Hot and Cold Cereal
- Canned Vegetables
- Canned Beans
- Healthy Snacks (e.g. raisins, granola bars)
Image via Fairfax County
Local children’s book author, Joe Jamaldinian, is partnering with the Kendra Scott location in the Mosaic District (2920 District Ave) tomorrow (Sept. 19) for a charity event benefiting the Grace DC Homeless Project.
At the event, which runs from 12-2 p.m., Jamaldinian will be signing his Penguin Bob books purchased on-site and conducting meet and greets.
Grace DC Homeless Project is a non-profit that feeds and provides care packages for people experiencing homelessness, according to Jamaldinian.
For all the books sold, Jamaldinian will be donating 100% of the profits to the charity while Kendra Scott will be donating 20% of all sales.
The partnership came about after Jamaldinian said he was contacted by a Kendra Scott representative who loved his book.
Those who want to contribute to the cause but cannot make the in-person event are invited to donate to the cause directly.
Additionally, “20% of Kendra Scott purchases [go] to Grace DC Homeless Project during the event and online through September 20th,” a Facebook post said. “Just enter GIVEBACK8936 at checkout.”
In lieu of being able to serve the community in-person, members of Falls Church-based Dulin United Methodist Church started a monthly charity project led by their pastor, Dave Kirkland.
Since July, the congregation has chosen a different charity to support each month by raising funds for those in need.
“We pick up a different ministry each month and see how it hits the spirits of people and how they respond,” Kirkland said.
Though the charities range in geographic location and purpose, the July donation to Homestretch benefited people within Falls Church’s own community.
Not only did churchgoers and a variety of other donors raise $100,000 which will support the charity’s mission to help disadvantaged families find housing and sustainable lives, but the group was also able to donate $7,200 worth of gift cards and put together care packages with toiletries for 28 local families, according to Kirkland.
Many of the people which received help thanks to the donations are entry-level frontline workers, Kirkland said, and many are also survivors of human trafficking or abuse.
“We knew a lot of these folks probably lost their job and COVID has really affected their lives, so we made a plea,” Kirkland said. “They [Homestretch] support their families through skills, knowledge and hope. We couldn’t help with skills or knowledge but we could help with hope.”
In August, Dulin United Methodist also raised $17,000 for a group called Free Minds Book Club, which is a D.C. based organization that encourages incarcerated youth to develop a passion for literature.
This month, congregation members will be supporting a charity in Sierra Leone which works to set up infrastructure in the country which was destroyed by civil war, according to Kirkland.
Anyone interested in supporting the church’s mission can donate online.
Photo via Dulin United Methodist Church/Facebook
Vienna music venue Jammin Java has reopened to the public with a series of socially-distanced benefit shows called “A Song & A Slice.”
The series combines outdoor concerts with pizza from Union Pie at Jammin Java, the pizza restaurant opened by the owners during the pandemic.
Attendees are encouraged to donate during each show to a charity selected by the performers. In addition, one dollar from every beer sold will go towards those charities.
Some of the upcoming shows include:
- DJ D’s Dance To The Decades benefitting the US & JJ Staff Fund on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.
- Irresponsible benefitting the National Black Child Development Institute on Aug. 16 at 6 p.m.
- Tommy McGee Band benefitting SURJNOVA on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.
Jammin Java stopped their shows when the pandemic hit in March and then opened Union Pie at the beginning of April.
“We’d been talking about it for a while, but once the COVID struck, we decided it was now or never,” said Lana Mahmoud, the Director of Operations for Jammin Java. They then decided to blend the pizza with the music to create concerts to benefit both businesses.
Once Virginia was able to reopen, they were able to move forward with scheduling shows again. Their first outdoor show this summer took place on July 19, and they have concerts scheduled through Oct. 31.
“We’re focusing on local artists to keep the local scene alive,” said Mahmoud.
The venue is taking recommended measures to ensure COVID-19 safety, including mandating masks indoors and for all employees, keeping tables at least 6 feet apart and setting up hand sanitizer stations. They are also using disposable menus and cups.
“A lot of people are just so thankful to have live music back,” said Mahmoud. “It’s a really beautiful sense of community and joy.”
Photo via Jammin Java/Facebook
Instead of happening in-person on a set date, the event will now take place virtually during a weekend in late September. Just like the previous races, the registration fee will benefit food-insecure people in Fairfax County.
Located in the Merrifield area, Food for Others notes on its website that more than 70,000 people in Fairfax County live in poverty. The organization distributes food to more than 2,600 families weekly.
“Between March and July, Food for Others has served food to a total of 72,223 households, a 35 percent increase over the number of families we served between March and July of 2019,” the organization recently announced.
Participants will have the weekend of Sept. 25-Sept. 27 to complete the distance and can complete the 5k on a trail, treadmill or anywhere they can walk.
The cost to join the event is $30 per person, which will go toward giving rice and beans to 25 families. People who register before Sept. 10 can get a race t-shirt mailed to them. The race is also accepting sponsorships.
The event description asks that participants record their time and share photos on social media using #Foodforothers5K.
Some of the prizes will include awards for people with the best race costume, most creative route and best pet photo. The full list of prizes will be announced by Sept. 10 so that participants can prepare.
Photo by Bruno Nascimento/Unsplash
A Vienna woman decided to take advantage of free time to help women around the D.C. area that are either suffering from homelessness or domestic violence while also supporting a regional Black-owned eatery.
Alexandra Sorrell, a recent Virginia Tech graduate, doesn’t start her new job until October and said she couldn’t stand the idea of sitting idly by while other people are in need. So Sorrell decided to organize a GoFundMe to purchase full-price meals from Puddin’ for women at both the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter and N Street Village facilities.
Both of these non-profits focus on helping women and children in the area by offering housing, counseling and advocacy, according to their websites.
“It’s hard to find things to fill your time and I felt so guilty sitting at home while so many people are suffering, especially now with the pandemic and Black Lives Matter,” she said.
Though Sorrell thought about assisting community members around Vienna, she recognized that there was a more immediate and extreme need in D.C.
One of Sorrell’s family friends is an emergency room nurse in a regional hospital and told her that they have seen record numbers of domestic violence and child abuse cases.
“I was trying to address as many areas of struggle as I could,” she said.
Puddin’, which is owned by Toyin Alli, serves Southern-style comfort food, according to the food truck’s website. Sorrell chose the truck from a recommendation of a staffer at N Street Village.
Sorrell told Tysons Reporter that she wanted to do more than provide canned food meals. Through Puddin’, she is able to connect recipients with meals they could enjoy.
She added that she wants to help replicate the joy that she feels when she is able to enjoy a nice meal with some friends.
As of this morning, the campaign has raised $1,760 out of $2,500. If the campaign doesn’t raise the full amount, Sorrell said she would donate the rest from the signing bonus from her new job.
The campaign will run through Aug. 1, according to the GoFundMe.
“My fear is to be ever complacent,” Sorrell said, adding that she hopes other people will assist with outreach and take advantage of free time to help others.
Photo via Puddin’/Facebook
After noticing harm done by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vienna community members banded together to help D.C. residents in need.
Lydia Russo, who organized the fundraiser on the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group, said that the group raised roughly $20,000 to support Martha’s Table, which works to support education programs, healthy food and family outreach.
Russo told Tysons Reporter that she was impressed with Martha’s Table’s work East of River and wanted to partner with them to benefit the Barry Farm neighborhood, which is near one of the centers for Martha’s Table.
“I wanted to go with a well-known charity because they have a well-organized program that is intertwined in the neighborhood and has a good system going,” Russo said.
In the first two days of the fundraiser, Russo said the effort raised $18,000 — far exceeding her expectations.
“My first ‘goal’ was only $1,000. Then it increased to $5,000,” she said. “Within the week, we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people donate — children, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, people I’ve met, people I’ve never met, people who heard about the fundraiser from a friend.”
The check is set to be hand-delivered to Martha’s Table this week by Russo and both of Vienna’s incoming and outgoing mayors, Russo said.
“My hope was to show that we are all part of one larger community, and we should think of our neighbors and put our thoughts and words into action,” Russo said.
Though the fundraiser ended yesterday, Russo encourages people to organize their own fundraisers or donate to Martha’s Table directly, since the nonprofit accepts donations year-round.
Photo via Martha’s Table/Facebook
Though COVID-19 has put a damper on in-person Pride celebrations this year — and led to Pride Prom’s postponement twice — NoVa Pride is still working to support members of the LGBTQ+ youth community. Pride month is meant as an inclusive, celebratory event commemorating Stonewall.
Amy, the director of youth outreach for the group, said they decided to set up virtual activities where participants can connect with their friends.
These kids need extra support in the age of COVID-19 since LGBTQ+ youth may not have as much support at home, according to Amy, who added that a lack of peer support and contact could put them at risk.
“Many kids rely on schools for affirmation and validation,” Amy said. “They’re the ones who are experiencing more social isolation.”
The digital events, which Amy said are held every other week, include Netflix parties, Q&As with student leadership and an Instagram chat option.
Anyone who wishes to get involved with these events can check out NoVA Pride’s website and social media.
For the next meeting, NoVA Pride will be teaching a DIY drag tutorial, according to Amy.
Though many of NoVA Pride’s events are aimed at kids in ninth-12th grade, the organization also works with adults, serving as a resource to help connect new community members with LGBTQ-friendly churches and groups.
“From what we’ve seen, adults aren’t really looking for anything online,” Amy said.
Regarding the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the country, Amy said she wants people to remember that Pride festivities were inspired by the Stonewall Riots, which were sparked by transgender women of color and other members of the LBGTQ+ community in response to police raids.
🏳️🌈Pride as we know it began with a riot. We stand in solidarity with the recognition that one’s race should not endanger them, one’s gender should not hinder them, one’s sexuality should not isolate them. Equality & equity are essential for freedom. 👊🏼 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/XDamOtjQMo
— Northern VA Pride (@northernvapride) May 31, 2020
NoVA Pride’s mission is “to cultivate and grow a coalition to educate, advocate and celebrate in service to the [LGBTQ+] community of Northern Virginia and our straight Allies.”
“Nothing we have done has changed, we are a very diverse and inclusive organization in general,” Amy said. “The same youth leaders who are serving as Pride Prom leaders are the ones in their communities advocating for racial justice and racial equity.”
For anyone struggling with their identity, depression or social norms, the Trevor Project aims to prevent suicide and self-harm in LBGTQ+ youth across the country, according to its website. Though it has no official affiliation with NoVA Pride, Amy said it is a wonderful resource.
Currently, Pride Prom is scheduled to be held in August but Amy said it is unclear if they will be forced to cancel with how quickly things seem to be changing with COVID-19.
To support other businesses around Vienna, locally-owned French Press Printing created a fundraiser that has collected more than $7,000 so far.
By selling specially designed t-shirts, owner Sarah Bohn said that she not only managed to raise funds for her neighboring buisnesses challenged by COVID-19, but also drawn attention to the compassion shared by Vienna residents.
Part of the reason the fundraiser has been so successful is that “people want to be involved in their community,” she said. “People didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to participate.”
For $20 people can purchase a dark blue t-shirt, which comes in two styles and has white lettering listing the 35 participating buisnesses on the back and the word “community” on the front.
Though all of the local buisnesses featured benefit from the extra advertising, some of them chose to forgo the money and either request it be given to other local buisnesses who need it more or take it to donate to a charity of their choice, Bohn said.
Originally, Bohn ran a trial fundraiser in April and brought back a second edition out of popular demand. New orders will be accepted through June 5, according to the website.
More than 100 shirts have been ordered so far in the second fundraising round, Bohn said.
Currently, Bohn said she is in the process of sending out the original orders, adding that people who ordered recently will receive their shirts after the June 5 order deadline.
Despite the hardship many buisnesses are facing, Bohn commented on the “wonderful energy” around town. She said she noticed that more and more buisnesses are reaching out to one another and forming partnerships, finding ways they can coordinate packages and deals for customers.
Around town, Bohn said she looks forward to watching people walk down the streets in their #supportingvienna shirts as a reminder of the small-town feel that Vienna shares with residents.
Besides just t-shirts, French Press Printing also sells pillows, custom made fabric items, glassware, bags and jewelry, according to its website.
Photo via French Press Printing/Facebook
A list started by a woman to “help local businesses in McLean get the word out” quickly became a resource naming roughly 300 businesses and charities in the D.C. area.
The project, created by Lori Boerner, consists of a Google Doc and map, so people either seeking assistance or wanting to help during the pandemic can efficiently find an organization that suits their needs.
Perusing the information provided, people will see a places collecting donations, restaurants offering takeout and delivery, fitness centers offing online classes, retail stores with curbside drop off and even corporate companies that are offering free services.
Part of Boerner’s inspiration for the project came from chatter from local forums and social media. She noticed that people wanted to help those in need but lacked a direct, coordinated list of resources.
“It was initially time-consuming,” she said, adding formatting the information and researching places took a substantial amount of time.
Now that the list is somewhat complete, she told Tysons Reporter that she still spends a few early mornings a week before work to update it with tips sent to her.
For example, the mother of a McLean teenager that works at Sweet Bites Café & Bakery told Boerner to help get the word out that the bakery is still open since its business has slowed substantially.
“A lot of it feeds upon itself — once people see it, they send things in,” Boerner said, especially since the list’s popularity continues to grow.
Since its creation, the list has been promoted by regional organizations such as the McLean Citizens Association, which Boerner is a member of.
Boerner had practice coordinating a similar list after she made one to assist people during the government shutdown in 2019.
“Things are different now and people are helping in any way they can,” Boerner said, adding that not everyone may be able to donate financially, but they can promote resources through social media channels and networks.
Image via Google Maps