An apartment fire that displaced 44 people Dec. 2 in Herndon has drawn responses from numerous services and community members to help as families embrace a holiday season much different than they expected.
Help has come through an outpouring of donations as well as help in staying in hotels for the short term, following the fire that officials say was linked to a charging cable.
“We are working to help make sure that these families have all of their short-term and long-term needs placed,” Cornerstones spokesperson Margaret Ann Lara said.
The nonprofit Cornerstones has been working with the Fairfax County Emergency Operations Center, county schools, a helpline for residents known as Coordinated Services Planning (703-222-0880), the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region and other safety net providers to address the “devastating impact of this fire,” Lara also said in a statement.
Cornerstones, the social services organization known for assisting homeless individuals and families, has also provided gift cards so victims can purchase food, clothing and transportation. It’s also working with other agencies to provide support for many suffering from emotional and physical trauma, Lara wrote.
“In that same light, the community’s support is extraordinary. We’ve received generous offers of clothing, furniture, toys, appliances, etc.” Lara said in the statement. “Household and personal items will definitely be needed in the future. But for now, the greatest community support opportunity is to donate gift cards or make direct financial donations through Cornerstones, as we coordinate resources to help with short-term needs and anticipate the long-term supports required for these families over the next 8-12 months.”
The organization plans to partner with local nonprofits, faith and civic groups and corporate as well as individual advocates to help fulfill families’ needs for household goods, furniture, appliances and more.
The Reston-headquartered nonprofit Cornerstones is continuing to give free meals to those in need, thanks in part to federal money.
The money assists kids at the nonprofit’s Laurel Learning Center (11484 Washington Plaza West, Suite 200) as well as homeless people and others experiencing emergencies at the 24/7 Embry Rucker Community Shelter (11975 Bowman Towne Drive).
Kids receive hot lunches and two snacks per day, and the learning center is currently accepting additional families, adding to the 92 children there, Cornerstones spokesperson Margaret Anne Lara said in an email.
The community shelter serves three hot meals and a snack each day to guests.
The two facilities have been involved in the federal program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), for over 20 years. The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service provides reimbursements to participating facilities.
“By participating in the CACFP, Cornerstones Laurel Learning Center and Embry Rucker Community Shelter can increase the quality of the meals served and provide more nutritious options,” Lara wrote.
Annual income for individuals must be at or below $16,777 for free meals and $23,828 for reduced price meals. Two-person household max incomes are $22,646 and $32,227, respectively, three-person households are $28,548 and $40,626, accordingly.
For larger families, add $5,902 for each family member for free meal income eligibility and $8,399 for each family member for reduced meals.
The nonprofit also operates one of the largest food pantries in northwest Fairfax County and provides other social services.