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Donations Sought for Blanket and Coat Drive for Refugees

A blanket and coat drive for refugees fleeing Syria kicks off on Saturday (Nov. 10). The drive, which is organized by the NOVA Relief Center, will run through Dec. 8.

Donations collected this year will go to three refugee camps in northern Jordan, with shipping costs covered by Paxton Van Lines and Maersk.

Drop-off locations are available throughout the region. Options in Herndon and Reston include the following:

  • Office of Supervisor Cathy Hudgins North County Governmental Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive)
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1515 Poplar Grove Drive) – Sundays only
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Franklin building (2727 Centerville Rd. Herndon, VA 20171) – Sundays only
  • Oak Hill Elementary School 3210 Kinross Circle Herndon, Virginia Town of Herndon Town Hall (777 Lynn Street Herndon)
  • The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (3301 Hidden Meadow Drive)
  • Congregation Beth Emeth (12523 Lawyers Road) 

All sizes and fabric are accepted for the blanket and coat drive, but items must be clean and in new or gently-used condition. Interested residents can also donate funds for the drive, allowing the center to purchase high-quality blankets and coats in bulk and at non-profit discounts.

The drive is in its fifth year of operation. NOVA Relief Center is a non-profit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for refugees abroad and in northern Virginia.

Photo via NOVA Relief Center

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With New Cooking Classes, South Lakes High School’s Food Pantry Charts New Future

The food pantry at South Lakes High School is moving beyond the typical scope of community pantries that give students in need a chance to discreetely shop for food and toiletries. In the coming weeks, the pantry, which currently caters to students in the SLHS pyramid and is run by the school’s Parent Teacher Student Association, will begin offering cooking skills classes.

The after-school cooking workshops will give students a chance to learn more about healthy eating. Through eight sessions during the school year on Wednesday afternoons, students will learn how to make one recipe using healthy ingredients and meal kits that do not rely on processed ingredients, according to Roberta Gosling, one of the founders of the pantry.  The initiative is made possible by a $7,000 grant from the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

The idea began to take root when Alana Pudner, a Girl Scout, approached pantry organizers with a three-meal pack she prepared to earn her Silver Award. Students began ordering the meal kit, which includes ingredients for veggie chili, lentil stew, and a tuna pasta casserole, as part of their weekly orders.

To take that further, we also looked at some of the broader trends and felt that if we could help students learn to cook healthy, budget-friendly recipes that it would equip a broad group of people with life skills and take students a step closer to nutritious choices,” Gosling said.

Recipes will contain ingredients available in the pantry and through SNAP and WIC benefits. At the end of each session, students will get bags with recipes and ingredients, including a kitchen starter kit with basic tools like a cutting board, measuring cup, a pan, and spices used in multiple cuisines. Although the classes are open to all students at the school, organizers plan to market the class through the pantry to reach students most in need.  Each session will accommodate about 20 students.

Organizers are also making an effort to focus on foods from around the world. Shopping lists are available in English, Spanish and Arabic and participants will get a chance to try different cuisines in the classes.

Roughly 30 percent of all SLHS students experience food insecurity, according to pantry organizers and volunteers. Every Thursday, students in need turn in their shopping list for the week. Volunteers pack shopping bags and distribute them to students as they head out on Fridays. Students can also shop at the pantry on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. and on Friday from noon to 3 p.m. The pantry is also open in the summer on Thursdays from 3-6 p.m.

Since April 2017, the pantry has filled more than 2,500 orders and weekly order averages are also increasing.

Now, pantry organizers and volunteers are looking for new ways to make the initiative more sustainable and comprehensive. On September 30, the school’s PTSA will partner with Lake Anne Brew House to present the “Do It Your Way 0.5K.” All proceeds from the event, which is set for 4-6 p.m. at Lake Anne Brew House, will go to the food pantry.

The pantry is led by Gosling, Abbe Pascal, Andy Sigle, Amy Shaw, and Sherri Pudner. Items in high demand include rice, beans, jelly, canned fruit, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. Monetary donations are also accepted online.

Photos via Roberta Gosling

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South Lakes High School Food Pantry Receives Award from Washington Nationals Dream Foundation

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and Delta Airlines presented South Lakes High School’s food pantry with a “2018 Delta Dream Grant.”

The $7,000 award was given during an on-field ceremony at Nationals Park on August 21. Grants support nonprofits that provide services for children and teens in the Washington, D.C. area. Ten other recipients received awards in the program, including Martha’s Table, Capitol City Little League and Kid Power, Inc.

This year’s grants are dedicated to improving local programming focused on healthful nutrition, as well as the refurbishment of youth baseball fields and/or the purchase of substantial baseball equipment. We are confident that the 2018 Delta Dream Grants will go a long way to improve the lives of children and teens in the Washington, D.C. region,” said Tal Alter, Vice President, Nationals Dream Foundation & Youth Baseball Academy. 

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation is a nonprofit organization created in 2005 to improve the lives of children and teens in the region.

The pantry at SLHS accepts toiletries, canned goods, boxed and dry goods, cooking oil, laundry detergent, and dish soap. Donations can be dropped off at the school’s main office during school hours.

Since March 2017, the pantry has distributed more than 4,500 bags of groceries to about 50 families per week. Students in the South Lakes High School Pyramid can shop for food and toiletries at the pantry.

 

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Nonprofit Seeks Winter Coats and Blankets for Syrian Refugees

Jurisdictions in Northern Virginia are collecting gently used and new coats and blankets for Syrian refugees in this year’s donation drive. The drive is powered by the Northern Virginia Relief Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to create a better life for people who come to Northern Virginia from around the world.

Since 2013, the drive has collected more than 100 tons of donations for Syrian and Iraqi refugees from jurisdictions like Fairfax County, Prince William County and Alexandria. Last year, 40,000 blanket and 33,000 winter coats were collected at over 100 drop-off sites throughout the country.

Donations will be accepted through Sunday at more than 30 locations. Local government drop-off locations will stop collecting donations at 5 p.m. on Friday.

In Reston, donations can be made at the Hunter Mill District Supervisor Office (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. A complete list of all drop-off locations is also available online.

The organization is also accepting online donations. This year, all donations will be shipped to refugees located in Lebanon through a partnership with Paxton Van Lines and Maersk Line, according to the center’s website.

Photo via Northern Virginia Relief Center

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Reston Philanthropic Club to Celebrate ‘Big Give’ in November

The Giving Circle of HOPE, a philanthropic club founded by Reston women in 2004, will celebrate another year of giving and grant distribution at its second annual Big Give on Nov. 9.

Representatives from area nonprofit organizations will pitch their projects at the event, which will take place at Refraction Reston (11911 Freedom Drive) from 6:30 – 9 p.m. Attendees will vote on which program to support. 

The organization selected three nonprofits to present their ideas: Fairfax CASA, an organization that works with abused and neglected children referred by the Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court; BRAWS, which provides women in shelters with undergarments and feminine hygiene products; and NAMI Northern Virginia, a local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

GCH says the event marks the culmination of this year’s grant-making season. In a press release, organizers said they hope the event will empower the community to embrace the power of collective giving.

“Understanding the needs of the underserved in Northern Virginia and making a difference with a small philanthropic investment collectively creates positive change.  This event gives a voice to the issues, while also providing a transformative impact through the community we create among ourselves and those we serve,” said Cyndi Shanahan, GCH’s governance chair.

The keynote speaker is Catherine Read, a strategist and advocate for DC-area nonprofits, according to the release. In 2007, Read launched Creative Read Inc., a consultancy that helps professionals use online marketing and social media to grow their businesses.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on the organization’s website. Voting members do not have to buy tickets to attend.

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Monday Morning Notes

Expanded Free Parking Starts at RTC — As of today, garage parking at Reston Town Center is free for the first hour before 5 p.m., after which time it becomes free until 3:30 a.m. [Reston Now]

Mullins Memorial Details Released — A memorial service for former Fairfax County GOP chair and Republican Party of Virginia chair Pat Mullins, who died May 28, will be held June 21 at McLean Bible Church (8925 Leesburg Pike, Vienna). [Bearing Drift]

Fire Station 39 Rescues Stuck Pup — A crew from the North Point Station (1117 Reston Ave.) responded to a residence in Great Falls recently, where they tracked down and rescued a 60-pound pet dog that had become trapped under the home. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Human Trafficking Awareness Walk Held — The Just Ask Prevention Project, which was created by detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department, hosted its first awareness event Saturday at the county government center. The nonprofit’s goal is to bring together county agencies, schools and community leaders to educate and raise awareness about human trafficking in Northern Virginia. [WTOP]

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Giving Circle’s Empty Bowls Fundraiser is April 8

EMPTY BOWLS/Credit: Giving CircleReston’s Giving Circle of HOPE is preparing for its Empty Bowls event, the non profit’s largest annual fundraiser.

Each year since 2008, The Giving Circle of HOPE has hosted about 600 guests to Empty Bowls, which raises awareness of food insecurity and raises funds for nonprofit partner Food for Others.

Empty Bowls takes place on Friday, April 8 at Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Rd., Herndon.

Tickets are $25 for adults in advance; $30 adults at door; $15 for children under 12.

Admission gets you a handcrafted pottery bowl to keep, along with a dinner of delicious soup, bread and desserts. There are also entertainment and raffle prizes.

Food for Others helps more than 2,000 people each week receive free groceries and fight hunger.

“The Empty Bowls event benefits Food for Others by building a healthier, stronger, and a more caring community,” Roxanne Rice, executive director of Food for Others, said in a release. “It is a wonderful opportunity to have local artists and some of the area’s finest chefs have their work appreciated, while making a difference to people in need.”

This year, 18 Girl Scout troops from Reston, Herndon, Oak Hill and surrounding areas, will help at the event, but volunteers are still needed.

The Giving Circle of HOPE is a Reston-based group where members donate a minimum of $365 a year. The group then offers grants of up to $7,000 to small nonprofits in the area. Last year, the Giving Circle gave away nearly $60,000 to worthy causes.

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Reston’s Giving Circle Will Make Grants of Nearly $60K

Giving Circle of Hope/Photo courtesy of Giving CircleReston’s Giving Circle of HOPE will give nearly $60,000 to nine area nonprofits, the group announced.

The Giving Circle, a philanthropic club founded by Reston women in 2004, has given out $900,000 in grants over 12 years. Members put in money, then decide where the collective donations will have the most impact.

The Giving Circle says $58,200 will go to “nine Nonprofit Partners in Northern Virginia whose programs encourage job creation, help build strong families, and assist community members in need.”

This is the 12th grant cycle for the Giving Circle of HOPE, an organization of more than 110 members that was founded in 2004 to promote volunteerism and effective philanthropy. Members seek to make a difference by contributing their time, talents and money and collectively deciding how to use those resources to positively impact the local community.

The 2015  grant recipients include: All Ages Read Together; Bethany House; Centreville Immigration Forum; Grace Ministries of the United Methodist Church; Literacy Council of Northern Virginia; Lorton Community Action Center; Our Daily Bread; Offender Aid and Restoration of Arlington; and Offender Aid and Restoration of Fairfax.

A celebration to honor these nonprofit partners will be held in the spring, the Giving Circle said.

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Herndon-Reston FISH Hires First Executive Director

Christine Poward/Credit: Jennifer HeffnerHerndon-Reston FISH (Friendly Instant Sympathetic Help) has hired the first fulltime executive director in its 45-year history.

Christine Poward comes to FISH with more than two decades of leading health care and nonprofit organizations.

Prior to joining Herndon Reston FISH, Christine served as the Interim Division Director for Marketing and Development for NeighborWorks America, a $250 million non-governmental organization aimed at affordable housing and community development.

Poward holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland.

“I am excited to be joining Herndon-Reston FISH during this exciting time in their growth,” she says. “FISH has been an integral part of the Herndon Reston communities for 45 years, and I look forward to being part of this great organization and the work they do.”

FISH responds to local residents’ emergency requests for rent, transportation, utilities, medical prescriptions and other needs.

Photo by Jennifer Heffner.

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