Morning Notes

FY 2022 Budget Markup Approved — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a markup package for the county’s fiscal year 2022 budget yesterday (Tuesday) that includes a 1% pay raise for county government employees and an additional $15 million for Fairfax County Public Schools, partly to support compensation increases. [Fairfax County Government]

Virginia Reviewing New Mask Guidelines — The CDC released new guidance yesterday (Tuesday) stating that people who have been fully vaccinated don’t need to wear masks outdoors except when in a big crowd of strangers. Gov. Ralph Northam’s press secretary said in a statement that the governor’s office is reviewing the guidelines “to determine if and where we need to make changes” to Virginia’s mask requirements. [Office of the Governor]

New Police Chief Use-of-Force Record Scrutinized — Incoming Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis lost two lawsuits over his use of force when he worked in the Prince George’s County Police Department in the 1990s. In the first case, the plaintiff said Davis pulled him over without giving a reason and violently arrested him, while the second victim alleged that “Davis and other officers essentially kidnapped him for a night.” [NBC4]

Nonprofit Hits Record for Food Donations to Feed StudentsFood for Neighbors received more than 21,000 pounds of food from over 1,200 households during its April 24th Red Bag Program food collection, including 5,547 pounds from 366 households in Herndon and Reston neighborhoods. [Patch]

Reston Defense Contractor Acquires Seattle-Based AI CompanySAIC announced on Monday (April 26) that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Koverse, a software company that “provides a data management platform enabling artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on complex, sensitive data.” [Koverse]

Community Helps Reston Resident with Medical Expenses — A GoFundMe for Reston resident David Vlcek, who suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, has raised more than $55,000, getting the fundraiser halfway to its $100,000 goal. Started by a family friend, the campaign funds will help defray medical costs not covered by insurance and pay for airfare for Vlcek’s parents, who need to travel from the Czech Republic. [Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Fairfax County is changing up its Stuff the Bus food drive this winter to support increased demand for food while accommodating challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Typically held twice a year, Stuff the Bus will kick off its 10th year of existence with buses parked at select locations throughout the county from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6.

During the two-day food drive, community members can stop by the buses to donate nonperishable food that will help restock local food pantries, which have reported an uptick in the need for food and drops in volunteer rates during the pandemic.

To prevent the potential transmission of the novel coronavirus, donors should wear a mask or other face-covering when at a Stuff the Bus site, and Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) is directing people to place their donations directly inside the buses through their rear doors, rather than approaching the front door or the bus drivers.

Fairfax County is also encouraging people to make online monetary donations to the participating nonprofits in lieu of donating food in person.

According to the county, virtual donations give food pantries more flexibility, allowing them to purchase in bulk, stock up on fresh food, and obtain “culturally appropriate foods, which better meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve.” It is also less labor-intensive.

“Nonprofits often rely on the work of volunteers to sort and shelve donations,” NCS says. “The COVID-19 virus has greatly impacted volunteers’ ability to serve, especially older adults or those with pre-existing conditions.”

The Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office will accept donations at 1801 Cameron Glen Drive. A complete list of all locations is available online.

Donations at the McLean Government Center will benefit LINK, which provides emergency food to people in the Herndon, Sterling, and Ashburn communities. The Patrick Henry Library drive will support Western Fairfax Christian Ministries on Jan. 30 and Cornerstones on Feb. 6.

The two Providence District locations — the supervisor’s office and James Lee Community Center — will support the Annandale Christian Community for Action on Jan. 30 and the Falls Church Community Service Council on Feb. 6.

A list of the most frequently requested food items can be found on the Stuff the Bus website.

Based on unemployment and poverty data, the Capital Area Food Bank estimates in its October 2020 Hunger Report that there has been a 48% to 60% increase in food insecurity in the D.C. region since the pandemic began.

Image via Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services

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The Reston Community Center is working with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Reston Association, and Cornerstones to expand its Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive this year.

The drive is introducing two “Stuff the RA Camp Van” events this month, according to a press release from the RCC, encouraging people to bring non-perishable food and other items to the RA Camp Van. The van will be open at these places and times:

  • Saturday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the SunTrust Bank parking lot at South Lakes Village Center.
  • Saturday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. next to the BB&T Bank at North Point Village Center.

The Annual Thanksgiving Drive as a whole will run through Nov. 23. There are collection boxes at RCC facilities, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and other drop-off points, according to the release. People are encouraged to donate non-perishable food and gift cards, amongst other things. 

“The impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the challenges faced by families struggling to meet their commitments during the pandemic are enormous,” said Leila Gordon, the RCC Executive Director. “We know that keeping our community strong and safe depends on the generosity of those who have the ability to give. We are very grateful for all the support people can offer.” 

Those looking to volunteer can sign up to be a Volunteer Loader on Nov. 24 or 25, or a Volunteer Food Sorter on Nov. 26 or 27. The events will be held with social distancing, mask-wearing, and smaller group sizes.

Photo via the RCC website

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Fairfax County is putting together a survey to direct funding for the Consolidated Community Funding Pool — which goes to help local nonprofits and organizations. The County is looking for public input on where the biggest needs are.

The goal of the fund is supplement the county’s ability to fill human services needs.

“To determine how these funds should be allocated, Fairfax County, with significant community input, establishes categories that are reflective of the needs residents feel are most important in their communities,” the County said in a press release. “In preparation for the next funding cycle, the county seeking your insight on our current category areas”

The categories are:

  • Financial Stability
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Literacy/Educational Development/Attainment
  • Positive Behaviors and Healthy Relationships
  • Support/Community/Social Networks

A survey for prioritizing needs is available online, and responses are welcome until Friday, Oct. 30. All responses will be kept anonymous.

Staff photo by Ashley Hopko

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Cornerstones has opened registration for its annual Gifts for Kids drive. The program is running concurrently with the Thanksgiving Food Drive this year to reduce interactions in the midst of the pandemic. 

Gifts for Kids aims to provide gifts for underprivileged kids in the community during the holiday season. In COVID-19 times, their mission to deliver holiday spirit remains especially important. 

In lieu of physical gifts, families will be receiving gift cards instead to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers, recipients and staff, according to the organization’s website. The drive will also be running five days, giving donors more time to donate and reducing the number of people dropping off at one time. 

Cornerstones will have social distancing measures and other COVID-19 safety protocols in place for the drives, including cutting down the number of volunteers at a time, requiring masks and temperature checks for volunteers, and having much of the work done outside. 

Additionally, families will drop off items by a drive-through instead of dropping off donations inside. 

The organization will be accepting gift card donations at St. John Neumann Catholic Church (11900 Lawyers Road) on November 16 through November 19 from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and November 20 from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. 

Those interested in donating can fill out the registration form on their website. Cornerstones will be distributing personalized gift card wish lists during the week of Oct. 1. 

Photo by Element 5 Digital/Unsplash

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In the 10 years he has spent working on Reston non-profit Cornerstones’ annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, Nate King has never seen a year like this.

King, the donations and drives coordinator for Cornerstones, said the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created an increase in demand for food for families in need — one that he hasn’t seen in the past decade of working for the non-profit.

“The downturn in the economy has increased the number of families coming in for assistance to the emergency food pantry,” King said.
Due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, King said he anticipates about a 25 % increase in the number of families who will be receiving donations from stones during their annual Thanksgiving Food Drive.

Typically, Cornerstones provides food for between 700 to 750 families in Fairfax County just before Thanksgiving, but this holiday season King anticipates that number to jump to about 1,050 families as more families have gone to the Cornerstones requesting help.

“This far out-stripes the numbers we have seen in the past years,” King said.

With no end of the pandemic in sight, Cornerstone’s Food Drive will look a little different this year. King said Cornerstones will extend the Thanksgiving Food Drive to five days to give more time for those who wish to donate, to avoid crowding.

For the families receiving food, Cornerstones is combining their Thanksgiving Food Drive with their annual Gift for Kids Drive, which provides underprivileged kids with presents for the holidays. But this year, to cut down on crowding during the pandemic, Cornerstones is combining the events, giving families gift cards, instead of wrapped presents, along with a box of Thanksgiving food items.

King said Cornerstones will implement some social distancing measures this year by cutting down on the number of volunteers who will work at one time, requiring volunteers to wear masks and to undergo temperature checks and to do much of their work organizing food boxes outside.

This year, families will receive their food and gifts through a makeshift drive-through, where volunteers will drop the items off in cars, instead of having families go inside to collect them.

Food collection for the Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive will take place on November 16 to 19, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Nov. 20, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Reston.

Those interested in donating to Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive can find more information online.

Photo courtesy Cornerstones

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To help fill the South Lakes High School Food Pantry, Lake Anne Brew House (11401 North Shore Drive) is hosting a luau themed food drive over Memorial Day Weekend.

People are encouraged to bring items to the brewhouse from May 21 through 24. The location will be accepting donations on Thursday and Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m., according to the event page.

Requested items include canned goods, nonperishable things like beans and rice or toiletries and personal care products.

Food and donations will go to vulnerable members of the community, the event page said, adding that customers are also encouraged to pick up to-go food and drink since a portion of the proceeds will also go towards the cause.

Image courtesy Lake Anne Brewhouse

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has become increasingly common. Community members will have the chance to ease the burden by donating non-perishable goods to an upcoming campaign.

Stuff the Bus, a typically biannual effort, organized collections dates on Saturday (May 16) and Tuesday (May 19) from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. to help fill the requests of local food banks, according to the event page.

“Unlike past years, the buses will not be parked in grocery store parking lots. Instead, buses will be parked in less-frequented lots,” the page said.

Around Reston, people can find a donation area at Hunter Mill District Supervisor’s Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive), which will benefit Cornerstones, according to the event page.

In Great Falls, people can stop by the Great Falls Library (9830 Georgetown Pike).

“Because of the extraordinary events taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for food has surged in Fairfax County, so Stuff the Bus is again stepping up to feed hungry people,” the event page said.

Photo by Austin Kehmeier/Unsplash

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The last holiday festivities of the season will wrap-up with the Post-Holiday Ugly Sweater Fundraiser Party on Jan. 4.

People are invited to come and bring non-perishable food for the South Lakes High Food Pantry to the Lake Ann Brew House (11401 North Shore Drive). The event is set to run from 1-4 p.m., and people are encouraged to dress in their festive sweaters.

Every drink purchased will donate a dollar to the cause.

Tomorrow (Jan. 4)

  • Lake Anne Brew House Saturday Beer Run (9:45 a.m.) — People are welcome to gather in front of Lake Anne Brew House (11424 W. Washington Plaza) and run, jog or walk a lap or two before meeting at the brewhouse for beer, coffee and breakfast pretzels.
  • Winter Bird Count (7 a.m. until 2 p.m.) — At the Walker Nature House (11450 Glade Drive), people can join in the effort to count local birds and enjoy a free lunch. This event is for adults only, and people are asked to register.
  • Herndon Community Center Open House (7 a.m. until 6 p.m.) — The Herndon Community Center will celebrate its 40th anniversary with free admission all day. There will be activities for all ages between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sunday (Jan. 5)

  • Tea Time (1 and 4 p.m.) — This monthly event invites people to the Elden Tea Shop (714 Pine Street) to enjoy tea, scones and pastries. Tickets are $18.50.
  • Sunday Funday (1-4 p.m.) — The Reston Regional Library (11925 Bowman Towne Drive) will host events for kids and their families. Though activities vary, families can expect to participate in either crafts, a scavenger hunt or another project for kids ages 5-12.
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Friday Morning Notes

Deadline to Order Commemorative Bricks Nears — The Reston Historic Trust & Museum is taking orders for commemorative bricks through Jan. 6. Bricks will be installed in 2021. [Reston Historic Trust & Museum]

Stuff the Bus Events Returns to Fairfax County — Stuff the Bus visits local grocery stores to collect donations food and household items beginning Jan. 18. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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With the holiday season approaching, organizations are setting up campaigns to help those in need.

The Reston Community Center teamed up with the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Cornerstones to collect food and basic necessities, while Food For Neighbors is sponsoring an online fundraiser to provide meals for those struggling with food insecurity.

On the Food For Neighbors’ website, anyone can donate money to help feed families. They are asking for amounts in $50 increments, which will provide a meal for one family.

Under the RCC, there are more than a dozen locations where people can drop off non-perishable items, including food, paper towels, plastic bins and hygiene items.

They are looking for food items that are unopened, unused and unexpired, including coffee, tea, canned products, oatmeal, dry beans and rice, peanut butter, jellies, flour, sugar, condiments and cooking oil.

Volunteers can sign up online to sort the items.

Below, is a list of locations where people can drop off new items.

  • RCC Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road)
  • RCC Lake Anne (1609-A N. Washington Plaza)
  • Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (1886 Metro Center Drive, Suite 230)
  • Atlantic Union Bank (1800 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 105)
  • Hunter Mill District Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive)
  • Guide Post Montessori Herndon (13251 Woodland Park Road)
  • Long and Foster Realtors (2100 Reston Pkwy, Suite 102)
  • Reston Association — HQ (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive)
  • Reston Associaton — Central Services Facility (12250 Sunset Hills Road)
  • Reston Association — Walker Nature Center (11450 Glade Drive)
  • State Farm Insurance (11868 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200)
  • Tall Oaks Assisted Living (12052 North Shore Drive)
  • The Harrison at Reston Town Center (1800 Jonathan Way)
  • Washington Hilton Dulles (13869 Park Center Road)
  • YMCA Fairfax County Reston (12196 Sunset Hills Road)

Photo via Facebook

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Reston Community Center will present its annual Children’s Fall Flea Market this Saturday from 9 a.m. through noon at RCC Hunters Woods.

Attendees can browse several tables for gently-used toys, books, games, video, and other child-friendly items. Junior merchants between the age of six and 13 will sell the items.

The event is open to all. Admission is one non-perishable item for Cornerstones’ Thanksgiving Food Drive, which kicks off today.

Vendor spots are still available. Single-size, 3’x6′ tables cost $10 for Reston residents $15 for all others. Shared tables that measure 3’x9′ with two or more merchants are $15 for Reston residents and $23 for all others. Registration is open online.

For more information, contact RCC’s youth program director Debbie Heron at [email protected].

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Three local organizations are working together once again on the annual Thanksgiving Drive, which helps families in need of food. Individuals, businesses and organizations are encouraged to drop off non-perishable food and other essential items as several drop-off points throughout the area.

This year’s drive, which is organized by Reston Community Center, the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and Cornerstones will run from Thursday (Nov. 1) through Nov. 19.

Cornerstones, a local nonprofit organization that helps neighbors in overcome tough economic times, is in need of the following items:

  • Toilet Paper
  • Baby Wipes
  • Hygiene Items
  • Condiments
  • Cooking Oil
  • Dry Beans
  • Canned Meats
  • Flour, Sugar, etc.
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Canned Fruit
  • Soups, Chili, etc.
  • Coffee, Tea, etc.
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Boxed Potatoes
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Heavy Duty Clear Plastic Bins (approx. size of file boxes)
  • Shelf Stable Milk (evaporated, condensed, dry, soy, etc.)

Drop-off locations, as listed by RCC, are below:

  • RCC Hunters Woods
    2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston
  • RCC Lake Anne
    1609-A Washington Plaza, Reston
  • Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce
    1886 Metro Center Drive, Suite 230, Reston
  • Access National Bank
    1800 Robert Fulton Drive, Suite 105, Reston
  • Hunter Mill District Office
    1802 Cameron Glen Drive, Reston
  • JBG/Arboretum
    12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston
  • JBG/RTC West
    12100, 12110,12120 Sunset Hills Road, Reston
  • LePort Montessori Herndon
    13251 Woodland Park Road, Herndon
  • Long & Foster Realtors
    2100 Reston Pkwy, Suite 102, Reston
  • Reston Association – HQ
    12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston
  • Reston Association – CSF
    12250 Sunset Hills Road, Reston
  • Reston Association – WNC
    11450 Glade Drive, Reston
  • State Farm Insurance
    11868 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston
  • Tall Oaks Assisted Living
    12052 North Shore Drive, Reston
  • The Harrison at Reston Town Center
    1800 Jonathan Way, Reston
  • Washington Hilton Dulles
    13869 Park Center Road, Herndon
  • YMCA Fairfax County Reston
    12196 Sunset Hills Road, Reston

Photo via RCC

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Batman and Robin, Little Red Riding Hood, A Dragon and More — A big crowd came out for the Lake Anne Boo and Brews Festival a few days ago, with many Restonians winning awards for their impressive costumes, and many incorporating their pets into their costumes as well. See Little Red Riding Hood and The Huntsman with their dog as Grandma, Batgirl with her dog as Robin, and many more in photos. [Connection Newspapers]

Reston Food Drive Starts Today — Reston Community Center is once again partnering up with Cornerstones and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce to collect food for families in need this month, starting on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Donations of nonperishable food items can be dropped off through Nov. 20 at the community centers at Hunters Woods (2310 Colts Neck Road) and Lake Anne (1609 Washington Plaza N.), or at the Chamber of Commerce (1886 Metro Center Dr., Suite 230). A long list of other drop-off locations, along with a list of the most needed items, is available online. [Reston Community Center]

Franchise Job Fair Coming to Reston on Monday — Budding entrepreneurs who have been considering opening a franchise business are invited to the Capital Area Franchise Fair to learn all about various opportunities and learn more about the process. The fair will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Reston Association Conference Center, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr. in Reston. Representatives from the Virginia Small Business Administration as well as from various franchise industries will present information and talk with attendees, and funding experts will be on hand. Tickets are $39 in advance and $49 at the door. [Capital Area Franchise Fair]

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