As we revel in the joy and wonder of the holiday season that is upon us, many of us often look outside our immediate world to consider the challenges that our neighbors throughout Northern Virginia may face. There are so many worthwhile groups doing super work to help the marginalized around us.
The needs are numerous and great and people already have favorite causes or projects to support, especially at their church, Toys for Tots, or the children’s school efforts. However if you are looking to do more, here are some organizations that have a significant and far-reaching mission to accomplish in this area that can really use your help.
You will note that every organization listed has opportunities to donate AND to volunteer and more. It’s not only funds that are needed but your time that can make a huge difference.
Donate Food, Donate Funds, Volunteer
Hunger exists in every single area in the region. The Capital Area Food Bank partners with 444 community organizations in Virginia, DC, and Maryland and helps over a half-million people each year get good and healthy food. That’s 12% of our region’s mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. More than 90,000 people in Northern Virginia are living in poverty and 30% are children.
CAFB provides incredible programs through those food assistance partners such as weekend bags of groceries for children, senior brown bags – monthly groceries for income-qualified seniors, nutrition education, mobile markets, summer lunches for children, kids after-school meals programs, farmers market-style distribution of produce and bread, and so much more.
You can help by donating with a one-time contribution, becoming a sustaining donor, running a food drive, and donating through United Way or the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). You can also volunteer as an individual or group at either the DC or Lorton warehouse to help sort and pack thousands of pounds of food distributed to partners and neighbors.
Donate Funds, Donate Supplies, Adopt a Pet, Purchase Animal-friendly License Plates
Each year more than 5000 domestic animals arrive at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and costs exceed what the shelter can afford. The Friends group, an all-volunteer organization, raises money to help these animals. Donors make possible emergency medical treatment, equipment and supplies, food, additional staff training, special adoption events, and much, much more.
The FFCAS mission is to provide additional resources and aid to the shelter, to promote adoption of homeless domestic animals, and to educate the community on the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
Opportunities to help include donating money on a one-time or recurring basis, including CFC. You can also attend special FFCAS fund-raising events. The shelter maintains a donation wish list at fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/donations.htm. Many may choose to help by adopting an animal. Other support options include purchasing animal friendly license plates, shopping for FFCAS logo gear, and designating FFCAS as your AmazonSmile charity.
Donate Funds, Join a Giving Society, Volunteer
More than 181,000 (16%) of Fairfax County residents live in or just above poverty. More than 52,000 children (more than 25%) who attend Fairfax County Public Schools qualify to receive free or reduced-price meals.
The families served by Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread) are working several jobs to make ends meet, but an illness, car repair or other crisis, coupled with the high cost of living in our area, can quickly put them on the brink of hunger and homelessness. Through their programs such as Stabilize Families, Food Bridge, financial assistance, financial literacy, the Naomi Project, and much more, Britepaths helps families with critical short-term needs while guiding toward long-term self-sufficiency.
There are numerous ways you can help including monetary donations, by volunteering for events or food raisers or offering your talents as attorney, financial planner, or mentor. You can even organize a drive or host your own benefit event.
Donate Blood, Donate Funds or In-kind Products and Services, Volunteer, Host a Blood Drive
Inova Blood Donor Services supplies lifesaving blood and blood products to different hospitals in Northern Virginia and the Washington, DC, metro area. For a different but important way to give, consider being a blood donor. It’s free and you will help save lives, whether donating whole blood or blood components through apheresis.
Other giving opportunities include monetary donations and in-kind donations from businesses. Again there are opportunities to volunteer including donor registration, monitoring, and recruiting, and administrative support.
Inova Blood Donor Services (IBDS) collects approximately 60 to 70 percent of its blood from local blood drives. If you would like to sponsor a blood drive at your business, church, or community, you could make a big difference in helping IBDS reach its donation goals. Contact the center for more information.
Donate Funds, Volunteer, Donate to Wish Lists, and Much More
When we think holidays, we think children. Beyond the toy drives like local giving trees, another organization serves children every day by providing a place for families to be together when a child is sick in the hospital – Ronald McDonald House. A non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of donors and volunteers, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Washington, DC also operates a mobile clinic for underserved children in Washington, as well as the RMH Family Rooms at Inova Fairfax and Children’s National Medical Center.
Your monetary donation supports all three programs and helps ease the suffering of very sick children. You can also raise money or collect items for the Wish List at your own events. And don’t forget to drop your change in the RMHC donation boxes at the local McDonald’s restaurants. Go to their website for more details.
4900 Puerto Rico Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20017
6833 Hill Park Drive
Lorton, VA 22079
4080 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA 22030-4080
PO Box 2321
Centreville, VA 20122
Inova Blood Donor Services
Locations in Annandale, Centreville, Sterling, Alexandria
See website for addresses and hours
3312 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042