Reston, VA

Instead of our typical Friday roundup of events, we’ve included ways that you can give from the comfort of your home or vehicle as the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold in the county, country and around the world.

Below is a list of a few local initiatives and organizations that are seeking funds and donations. If you have other suggestions, feel free to shoot us an email at [email protected].

The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia has launched a COVID-19 fund that aims to provide “flexible funding resources” for nonprofit organizations and other programs in the area. The fund primarily helps those impacted by the virus and its economic consequences.

In addition to funds, Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization, has an Amazon wishlist for its Reston food pantry. The list is available online. If items are not available for shipment, Cornerstones encourages residents to find another distributed to get the items to the organization. Residents can also drop-off donations at 11484 Washington Plaza-W, Suite 120. Items that are needed include gift cards for grocery stores, gas station, and fast food restaurants; rice; beans; lentils; cooking oil; oatmeal; eggs; milk; Clorox wipes; disinfectants; spray bottles; and paper towels.

The Embry Rucker Community Shelter is also looking for essential items like underwear, shampoo and clothing online.

With school buildings closed, the South Lakes High School Pantry is also seeking donations online. The pantry is seeking items like pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, pasta, dry rice, beans, cereal, oil, granola bars, bar soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste and maxi pads.

Fellowship Square is looking for volunteers to help with food delivery to low-income seniors at Lake Anne and Hunters Woods Fellowship Houses. Guidelines, which are in accordance with State Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home-order are available online.

Herndon-Reston FISH, which stands for Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help, is also collecting donations. The Herndon Neighborhood Resource Center (1086 Elden Street) and Connections for Hope Partnership (1141 Elden Street) are looking for cleaning products like bleach, Clorox wipes, spray bottles and paper towels. Both programs are operated under Cornerstones.

At Reston Hospital Center, residents can donate blood through the American Red Cross or make a financial contribution to HCA’s Hope Fund. The hospital is not currently accepting homemade masks.

Residents can also check in with the county’s Neighbor to Neighbor Program to help neighbors with services like grocery deliveries and check-in phone calls.

LINK, a volunteer-based Christian organization that offers emergency food to families in Reston, Herndon and Ashburn, is also seeking items via an Amazon wishlist.

Photo via SLHS Food Pantry/Facebook

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The Reston Association wants to transition several of its systems to not only reduce paper, but help community members stay safe and healthy during the CODID19 pandemic.

After the Reston Association originally decided to postpone its meeting until April 30, staff also made the call to host it electronically, according to a press release. RA members interested in attending can join the forum using a link that they will receive through an email, the press release added.

Additionally, the RA recently sent an email out to members requesting people to register for digital notice of the 2020 annual members meeting. The RA said it is required by law to remind people of the meeting in writing.

“By receiving the meeting notice via email, you will help us reduce expenses associated with printing costs and using first-class mail,” the press release said.

To opt-in for the digital reminder, the RA asks members to email their name, property address and email address to  [email protected] before April 10.

For those curious about the results of the RA Board of Directors elections, community members will hear final counts at the upcoming annual members meeting.

Photo courtesy Reston Association

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Local Restonians can now get Chick-fil-A delivered directly to their doorstep beginning today (Thursday).

The location in north point Village Center is one of 200 stores selected by corporate headquarters for the operator-led service. Staff will be trained to handle and deliver food directly to homes and businesses in the area.

In a press release, the company noted that the North Point Village Center location was selected because of its “unique location deep within residential areas,” as well as “impressive growth and speed increases over the past two years.”

“This is both an honor and great responsibility. As we undertake this task, we are setting the pace for every Chick-fil-A in the country to more positively impact our communities,” said Larry Everett, the operator of the North Point location.

The service runs daily, except on Sundays, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Guests can place orders using the Chick-fil-A app or place on order for mobile curbside pickup or mobile drive-thru. Customers can continue to use the drive-thru and front lobby to place orders.

Everett’s son Philip and operator of a store in Illinois was also selected for the service.

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In an effort to protects its workforce during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Town of Herndon is suspending curbside pick-up of yard waste.

Residents can also expect delays in normal collection times because crews are working on rotational schedules in order to maintain social distancing requirements.

“This change allows crews to prioritize and safely collect residential refuse and recycling,” according to a statement from the town.

Residents should comprise their yard waste at home or “wait to place it curbside until service returns to normal.”

“We appreciate your understanding. We are working to protect our workforce during the current public health emergency while ensuring that trash and recyclables are collected.”

The town offered the following tips to create better working conditions for its workforce:

1. REDUCE THE WASTE YOU GENERATE- During this unprecedented time, residents should be mindful of the quantity of waste they generate, so as not to overwhelm the collection system. For example, this is not the best time to clean out the garage/do spring cleaning.

2. STOP SETTING OUT YARD WASTE AT THE CURB. Start grasscycling, backyard composting, and limit generation of yard waste if possible. Residents may take their Yard waste to the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex.

3. BAG ALL TRASH and REFUSE – Bagged trash limits exposure to potentially harmful materials, such as used tissue that could spread viruses and bacteria.

4. KEEP ALL RECYCLING CLEAN AND LOOSE – When recycling is loose in the bin, not in bags, it is easier to process. Removing food and liquid residue from recyclables minimizes the spread of viruses and bacteria. Only place plastic bottles and jugs, paper, cardboard, cartons and metal cans in the bin.

5. EMPTY ALL LIQUIDS – Liquids in bottles, cans, and other containers can carry viruses and bacteria and can splash onto collectors when trash and recyclables are emptied.

6. WIPE/DISINFECT CART HANDLES AND LIDS – The two main touch points on a cart for collectors are the lid and the handles. By wiping those areas down with disinfectant or soapy water, you minimize the danger of shared contact areas.

7. SEAL AND MARK ALL SHARPS/NEEDLES – Properly dispose of medical sharp objects such as syringes by placing them in a sealed, rigid plastic container. Seal the container with sturdy tape, clearly mark it as “Sharps,” and place in the trash.

New trash recycling rules also went into effect in Fairfax County on Monday (March 30).

Photo via Patricia Valerio/Unsplash

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With Fairfax County Schools closed through the academic year, South Lakes High School’s food pantry has shifted to a new location.

The pantry is collecting items at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, which is located at 1133 Reston Avenue.

Although organizers are encouraging residents to ship donations to the church, residents can also take part in “no-contact” collection on Mondays from 2-4 p.m and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

“We are trying to keep the collection and packing simple,” organizers wrote. “We are so incredibly grateful for the ability to use Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to collect and pack food.”

The pantry is in need of the following items

  • Pasta sauce
  • Pasta
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Dry rice
  • Beans
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Crackers
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Granola bars
  • Canned fruit or applesauce
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned Veggies
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper (packages in one roll per bag)
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Maxi pads

On the first day of food collection yesterday (Monday), the pantry collected 1,228 pounds of food, which significant donations from Restoration Church in Reston and Floris United Methodist Church.

Photo via SLHS/Facebook

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Virginia announced an upcoming Takeout Week to support local restaurants trying to stay afloat despite the loss of business from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the motto “Virginia is for Restaurant Lovers,” event organizers want people to order takeout at local businesses beginning today (March 30) until April 5, according to the event page on Fairfax County’s website.

People may be able to order directly from the eatery or use apps such as GrubHub and Uber Eats for curbside drop off.

Reston Now previously did a roundup of local eateries still open for delivery, which includes roughly two dozen various choices.

Already, some restaurants have chosen to shut down and let go of staffers. Temporary closures include Bombay VelvetNot Your Average Joe’s and Big Bowl.

People who participate are encouraged to use the hashtag #VirginiaEatsLocal to show solidarity and encourage their friends and family to order out, the website said.

Image via Fairfax County

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Local residents can expect changes to their trash and recycling starting today (March 30).

Fairfax County announced on Friday that the Solid Waste Management Program is making some changes to trash and recycling collection to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“These changes will remain in effect until the public health emergency passes,” the county said. “Additional changes may be announced if the situation worsens in our area.”

The county says that administrative buildings and donation stations are closed, along with the household hazardous waste and e-waste stations at the I-95 landfill complex. People can still find those stations at the I-66 transfer station.

The glass recycling drop-off bins have been temporarily suspended, and people are now asked to bring their glass recycling to the I-66 transfer station and I-95 landfill complex or to place the glass items in the trash.

Here’s what else has been suspended:

  • yard waste collection
  • 30-day prior notice requirements for change of collection schedule or services
  • support for community clean-ups
  • bulk/brush and electronic waste collection
  • support for the litter removal program
  • secure document shredding events

“These changes apply to all private haulers (90 percent of county) and county collections customers (10 percent),” the county said.

To help protect sanitation workers and residents from the coronavirus, the county asks that people reduce the amount of waste they generate, bag all trash and refuse, empty and clean containers that contained liquids and residue from food and regularly disinfect cart handles and lids.

Photo via City of Falls Church

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With more Fairfax County residents social distancing in their home, the 2020 census is expected to see higher response rates than usual in the county.

So far, nearly 43 percent of households have completed the questionnaire, up from the statewide response rate of 37 percent.

In the past, Fairfax County boasted a high response rate in the 2000 count. The county, which had a population of roughly 945,717 people,  had an 80 percent response rate, up from the 76 percent response rate in 1990.

The county trailed behind Macomb, Count, Mich., which had the highest response rate of 81 percent, data show.

With more people at home, the nationwide response rate could see an increase. In the last count, roughly 67 percent of all respondents completed the 2000 questionnaire. That was the first time in history the response rate improved over the preview census.

County officials are urging residents to take part in the census. “For each resident who does not respond to the census, Fairfax County could lose $12,000 in potential funding over the course of a decade,” according to the county’s government website.

Residents should expect an invitation to participate in the census. Responses can be completed online, by phone or email.

The COVID-19 outbreak pushed the U.S. Census Bureau to alters its operation schedule. The deadline for self-response rates was extended through August 14, along with a number of changes.

Image via U.S. Census Bureau

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Although schools are closed, Aldrin Elementary School Principal Shane Wolfe said he is trying to help his students regain a sense of normalcy by bringing people together through a shared love for storytime and feeling of community.

Wolfe began hosting Facebook Live events on March 18, which he said quickly attracted the attraction of hundreds of kids from Aldrin Elementary and across the country.

During these half-hour sessions, Wolfe typically reads a short storybook that is hand-selected by Wolfe.

At 2 p.m. today, Wolfe announced he will be reading “And Heres to You” by David Elliott. Anyone interested can join the Facebook Live event to listen along.

“I was trying to find a way I could create a connection with the kids back to the school,” Wolfe said, adding that he thinks a sense of community is important to the digital learning environment.

Wolfe says that he does his best to ensure that he can respond to questions from kids that log on.

“The kids have a lot of really good questions that come in too,” he said, adding that they often ask about when the school may reopen and even inquire about their friends.

One of the major questions that Wolfe gets is kids asking when they will be able to return to school and play on the playground. Though Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam canceled all in-person school activities through the end of the semester, Wolfe told Reston Now that Fairfax County is in the midst of creating a distance learning plan for students.

When it comes to recreation, Wolfe said that kids should listen to their parents and respect county guidelines but are still able to enjoy things like soccer fields that allow students to practice the six-feet social distancing rule.

Although the Aldrin Elementary’s Facebook page only has about 250 followers, Wolfe said that sometimes his Facebook Live videos will sometimes end up with upwards of 1,000 views. Once, he even saw that kids from Tennessee and Phoenix, Arizona were following along with the story as well.

In the near future, students and community members can expect an upcoming “virtual teacher parade” that will replace the car parade, which was previously canceled, according to Wolfe.

“We are recording it now and teachers will record themselves singing, being silly and saying hello to the kids,” he said.

The final product will be sent out electronically to the community once complete, Wolfe said.

Photo via Aldrin Elementary/Facebook

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Reston Association has canceled all committee and board meetings through the end of next month.

The move was prompted by efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The association is also canceling all activities, programs, and events until further notice.

Here’s more from RA:

The association has installed signs at tot lots throughout Reston that offer the following tips related to preventing the spread of COVID-19:

– Wash your hands before and after using playground equipment.

– Stay at least six feet away from other children and adults.

– Do not gather in groups of 10 people or more.

– Please do not use this recreational facility if sick.

– Sneeze or cough into a tissue or inside your elbow.

We have also closed public restrooms at Lake Newport, Glade and Autumnwood recreation facilities.

RA encourages all its members to stay safe and abide by the guidelines set by Fairfax County, state and federal agencies.

Although the association’s member service department is closed, staff will be on-call on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Walker Nature Center and Central Services Facility is also closed to the public.

Phone call hours will be extended until 8 p.m.. on Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 31 to allow members to pay assessment fees by phone or via WebTrac. Fees are due by March 31.

It is unclear how the closures will impact RA’s ongoing election for its Board of Directors.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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A Reston based global company is using data to try and track COVID-19 discussion around the world.

Comscore, headquartered at 11950 Democracy Drive, helps clients “evaluate media across platforms” to boost audience engagement, according to its website. Major clients for the company include Pepsi and Oracle.

The company recently expanded its efforts to provide “insights” into COVID-19.

Those insights range in data from things like media consumption during the outbreak to surging levels of in-home data usage.

Now that people are staying home, the company announced that as of today (Tuesday, March 24,) data use by gaming consoles is up 48% along with a 44% data use rise by in-home speakers.

When it comes to media consumption, roughly 3.2 million people checked governmental websites including the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Between March 9115, roughly 24.4 million people logged on to these websites. That’s over a 670% increase from the first few days of January, according to Comscore.

Due to recent changes in commerce, Comscore also noticed changes in other industries like retail and manufacturing.

“In looking at total digital visits to an aggregate of Amazon, Walmart and Target’s sites, we saw 779 million visits the week of March 9-15,” the company’s website said.

According to a blog recently released by Comscore, studies show that people are turning to local news when they face uncertainty during the pandemic.

“We need local news in times of crisis to learn about the changes impacting our daily lives,” Rachel Cooper-Blank, the author and company’s lead account manager, wrote in the blog.

Going forward, it seems that Comscore will continue to track changes to the economy and people’s habits during the pandemic.

Reston Now reached out to Comscore for comment and is awaiting a response.

Photo via Comscore/Facebook

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UPDATED at 2 p.m. — Tysons Reporter received new information from area hospitals about current needs and shortages. At this time, area hospitals are NOT in need of homemade medical masks, according to the spokesperson from Reston Hospital Center

A Reston father and his two sons teamed up to make a group to help people who could be severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

After feeling bored in self-isolation, Colin, Hayden and their dad, Ray Whitney, researched how they could best assist their community and discovered a group called Caremongers out of Canada. After some guidance from its volunteers, the trio founded one of their own chapters for the Reston community.

Caremongers Reston VA is a group that writes letters and shares ideas with others on how to help and delivers groceries or medicine to people around the area who are elderly or immuno-compromised, according to Ray.

Ray said he founded the Facebook page for the group around March 18, and already, the group has helped roughly 40 people — and continues to grow its outreach efforts through a partnership with the United Christian Parish Reston, where the family attends services.

“Right now it’s really just me and my sons trying to push things through and get things set up,” Ray said.

The group said they were able to write a letter to a 100-year-old WWII veteran who celebrated his birthday on Sunday (March 22) without a group of friends due to health concerns.

Currently, Ray said Caremongers Reston isn’t accepting donations.

“This is a unique opportunity for everybody to help,” according to Ray, who added that everyone is in a position to do something, even if it’s digitally reaching out to someone who might feel lonely in self-isolation or quarantine.

For people posting on social media, the group is using the hashtag #SpreadLoveNotCOVID19 to promote thoughtfulness during this time. 

To protect themselves, the family is ensuring that they wear gloves during curbside deliveries, leaving the house only when they have to and making sure to practice social distancing — i.e. keeping 6 feet away from people — when they are out, Ray said.

Ray added that they are trying to be cautious but not fearful.

For kids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that not every child will react the same way to stress from the pandemic and suggests that parents share facts with their kids and reassure them that they will be safe.

Colin is a 4th-grade student at Lake Anne Elementary and Ray said he is simply excited to be helping his community and that he seems to be handling everything okay. Hayden is currently a 9th-grade student at South Lakes High School.

“We are really proud of the fact he wants to step up and help people,” Ray said.

Photo courtesy Ray Whitney 

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Lake Anne’s main dock will get a $1.1 million facelift that’s expected to finish around May 1.

Although the dock’s appearance will not change significantly, the structure will get new wood decking and repairs to its structural elements are planned.

No new features are being added, according to RA spokesman Mike Leone.

The $1.1 million estimate includes costs associated with the dredged of accumulated sediment beneath the dock. RA contracted Lake Services Inc. to dredge the sediment from the Lake Anne Canal near North Shore Pool and Lake Anne Plaza. The bulkhead along the Green Trail will be replaced as well.

More information about the project is available online.

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A decision on the previously deferred plan to bring a new telecommunication tower to Herndon High School’s football field has been delayed, along with other votes and hearings on Reston and Herndon developments.

The project was set to go before the Fairfax County Planning Commission last week on March 18.

The approval of signage for Commerce Park, a 260-unit multifamily building north of Sunrise Valley Drive and west of Commerce Park Drive, has also been delayed. A public hearing was planned for Wednesday, March 25. Another comprehensive sign plan by Reston Hospital Center was also slated for discussion on April 22.

Tweaks to change lot lines for Montessori Children Center (2745 Centreville Road) were set to go before the commission on April 2.

A plan to rezone roughly one acre of land from one residential unit to three residential units on the north side of Old Courthouse Road, just 300 feet east of Ervin Street, has also been delayed. The proposal by two residents was set for an April 29 public hearing.

County government officials have not yet indicated when the regular schedule for public meetings will resume. The county passed an emergency declaration last week.

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Fairfax County Public Schools has changed the time for its grab and go meal sites at 34 school locations.

Starting Tuesday, March 24, FCPS will have the meals available from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The altered times will not affect the breakfast and lunch availability, according to FCPS.

Families can also find breakfast and lunch at 10 pop-up locations around the county and bus stop locations in several school neighborhoods. The complete list is available online, along with an online map created by the county to find food distribution sites.

Curbside pickup is only available at Westgate Elementary in Falls Church and Oak View Elementary in Fairfax from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Meals are free for kids and $2 for adults. Families must bring their kids when requesting meals.

Photo via FCPS

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