Members of the non-profit group Wreaths Across America coordinated efforts not just here, but at cemeteries across the country. The organization’s website states: “Fresh evergreens are a symbol used for centuries to recognize honor, and a living tribute renewed annually. To use plastic wreaths that are put in storage each year is exactly the kind of tradition we want to avoid – it makes for great photos but misses the point… We want people to see the tradition as a living memorial to veterans and their families, whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We believe that the sacrifices they made are more than worth the effort.”
The wreaths are currently on a solemn week-long journey from Maine to Arlington in what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest veterans’ parade.” The convoy stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes along the way as a reminder of the importance of remembering, honoring and teaching. Other trucks will head to participating cemeteries in all 50 states.
Donations can be made online through Thursday (December 13) for sponsoring wreaths to be laid on Saturday. A representative for the organization said “anyone and everyone is welcome” to show up on Saturday to assist with placing the wreaths. The convoy should arrive around 8:30 a.m. and volunteers are asked to arrive prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and briefing. More information, a map and a schedule can be found online.
Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers spent nearly two hours placing around 90,000 wreaths. This year’s total of wreaths and volunteers is expected to exceed last year’s. The organization hopes to reach the 100,000 mark with wreaths this year.
From gift wrapping to assisting Santa, volunteers are needed to help with a number of upcoming holiday events. More information about the items listed below, as well as other volunteer opportunities, can be found online.
- The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area seeks volunteers for one-on-one visits with local nursing home residents on Christmas Day. Many of the residents will not have any other visitors during the holidays, so they consider this time a special treat. Children are welcome and pets are welcome with advance notice. For information or to sign up, contact Robin Wiley at 703-370-0370.
- Deliver gifts to local children with incarcerated parents as part of Offender Aid Restoration‘s annual Project Christmas Angel program. Volunteers pick up the gifts on Thursday, December 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and deliver them from December 14 through December 23. Each child receives a gift with a personalized note from their parent. Volunteers must have a car and a valid driver’s license. A partner is suggested (though not required) because parking in some neighborhoods can be a challenge. Contact Emily Freeman at 703-228-7031.
- The Civitan Club of Arlington needs help at the Photos with Santa booth at the Ballston Mall. Volunteers are needed from now through December 24 and must be at least 15-years-old. Helpers will perform various tasks including processing orders, taking photos, printing photos and directing people through the process. Contact Leandra Finder at 703-473-7245.
- The Reading Connection (TRC) seeks “Gift Wrap for Reading” volunteers for various shifts from December 8-24. Volunteers will gift wrap purchases at the Clarendon Barnes & Noble in return for donations to TRC. Contact Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317 x10 or sign up online.
There are several interesting volunteer opportunities available around Arlington in the coming weeks. Among them:
Dogtober Day — The annual Dogtober Day event will be held at Lacey Woods Park (1200 N. George Mason Drive) on Saturday, October 6. Volunteers are needed from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to set up and break down, register participants, hand out prizes and help with dog games. For more information, contact Hadyn Kihm at 703-228-4724.
Language Teachers — Native Arabic speakers are wanted to lead a conversation group at the Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street). The ideal candidates should be able to speak Arabic clearly and correctly, have an interest in meeting new people and be able to work both independently and as part of a team. Training will be provided. The sessions are tentatively scheduled for Saturdays from 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., but could be changed to accommodate the group leader. Anyone interested can fill out the volunteer application online. Questions can be directed to Barbara Dean at 703-228-7688.
For more information about these or other opportunities, visit the Volunteer Arlington website.
The main event is being called the “Hunger Challenge,” during which residents are asked to try feeding themselves on $4.03 per day. That’s the amount of assistance the average Arlington resident would receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Participants are asked to try the challenge all month, for a week or even just a day, in an effort to understand the difficulty some of their neighbors have with feeding themselves and their families.
“If you struggle to eat well on $28.21 per week, you’ll understand how glad AFAC clients are to be able to fill the gap in their food budget with the milk, eggs, produce, meat and other items distributed by AFAC,” said Charles Meng, AFAC’s Executive Director.
AFAC currently helps about 1,600 families per week, which continues its recent trend of serving an all-time high number of people. Mona Bormet, AFAC Outreach and Research Manager, noted that it’s difficult and often embarrassing for people to receive assistance, but they may not have other options.
“They don’t really want to come here for help, they come here because they need to,” Bormet said. “Most people would rather be able to take care of themselves and their families on their own.”
AFAC is also offering the following volunteer opportunities to help fight hunger throughout September:
- Help collect food donations at local Safeway stores from September 8-11.
- Help pick fresh produce from area farms and gardens that will be used for food donations, on September 8, 15, 22 and 29.
- Eat at Pete’s Apizza (3017 Clarendon Blvd) on Monday, September 17, from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. and 25 percent of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC.
- Attend movie night at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on Wednesday, September 19th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Join AFAC and filmmaker Cintia Cabib in the main auditorium for a screening of “A Community of Gardeners.” The film highlights D.C. community gardens and their vital role.
- Join AFAC’s Young Professionals on Thursday, September 20, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Whitlow’s on Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd) for Mug Night.
- Try the California Dreaming Wine Tasting at Screwtop Wine Bar & Cheese Shop (1025 N. Fillmore Street) on Monday, September 24, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. All of the proceeds will be donated to AFAC. The event is limited to 45 people, and costs $15.99 to sample 10 wines and cheeses.
Anyone interested can get involved with these and other AFAC volunteer opportunities by signing up online.
(Updated at 6:10 p.m.) Volunteers are needed for a variety of opportunities throughout Arlington, such as citizenship teachers and youth soccer coaches. More information about the opportunities listed below, in addition to a list of others, can be found online.
- The Arlington Soccer Association (ASA) seeks people who would like to volunteer as soccer coaches and assistant coaches for the fall season. Volunteers must enjoy working with kids ages 6-16. Soccer experience is helpful but not required. Coaches will be given training, and all necessary equipment is provided by ASA. Coaches must be available for games, typically on Saturdays, and for one or two practices per week on weeknights. Applicants can contact Justin Wilt at 703-527-0157.
- The Community Outreach Program is looking for volunteers to be citizenship class teachers. There’s no need to be a certified teacher, the instructors come from all different backgrounds and professions. Volunteers must just be able to go through an orientation class and use materials they are given to teach immigrants the information necessary to pass the U.S. citizenship exam. There’s particular need for an instructor on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road). There are also some positions open for weekday classes from 1:00-3:00 p.m. at the Clarendon Education Center (2801 Clarendon Blvd). Although it’s preferred that volunteers commit to at least three months, those who can’t make the full commitment are welcome to apply for substitute positions. Anyone interested in applying can contact Aaron McCready at 703-228-1397.
- The Department of Parks and Recreation needs volunteers to help children with disabilities learn to swim. Trained staff members will lead the classes and volunteers will be in the pool to offer assistance and encouragement to participants. Experience working with individuals with disabilities is a plus, but not required. Volunteers should be comfortable in the water and able to swim, and should be able to attend four sessions throughout the year (one for each season). The sessions will take place at the pool adjacent to Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Shaeron King at 703-228-4731.
Individual residents or groups can sign up to adopt and perform light maintenance at one of the ART bus stops. At first, the program will focus on stops along the ART 51, 52, 53 and 61 routes. Additional routes and stops will be added soon.
Participants enter into a one year agreement, during which time they will maintain the stop at least once a week. They’ll perform duties such as picking up trash, reporting vandalism or safety hazards, clearing the area of snow and reporting items left at the stop.
The county will perform necessary heavier maintenance once it’s requested by the participant. Those tasks include removing graffiti, cutting tall grass and repairing bus stops. Should the participant request it, the county will also install a trash receptacle at the bus stop.
Transit Bureau Chief Stephen Del Giudice said although Arlington fared well in the recent recession, there was a reduction in the ability to commit resources to these types of maintenance projects. The county’s efforts mainly have focused on heavily used commercial corridors.
“We’re not always able to get to some of the residential areas. We see this as filling a need as far as our ability to commit resources to residential areas,” said Del Giudice. “We thought it would be a good idea to get community involvement in our transit program.”
Since the program began on May 16, three individuals each adopted a stop, and one group adopted two stops. Those who take part will get a certificate of participation, a mention on Arlington Transit’s website and a sign of recognition at the designated stop.
Sign up can be done online. Participants must be at least 18 years old, unless they are part of a group led by a person at least 18 years old.
A variety of volunteer opportunities exist throughout the county, but a few might be considered plain fun instead of work. One of them involves being an actor and another involves gardening. Check out the details below. More information about these opportunities and others can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website.
- Arlington’s Medical Reserve Corps seeks volunteers to be actors in an emergency response drill on Saturday, April 28. The drill will test the current point of dispensing plans for oral antibiotics given to the public in case of an aerosolized anthrax attack. No experience is necessary. Volunteers will receive an hour of training, then participate in the drill as actors for one hour. Contact Grelia Soliz at (703) 228-0711.
- Clarendon Presbyterian Church is looking for volunteers to be gardeners for its Plot Against Hunger program. Two plant beds are being built along the Jackson St side of the building to grow vegetables, which will be donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Help is needed for a variety of responsibilities that include set up, gardening and delivery of the food to AFAC. Volunteers will complete a short training session. Contact Gillian Burgess at (646) 284-8894.
- The USO of Metropolitan Washington seeks helpers at Ft. Myer. Volunteers will assist military service members, military dependents, military reservists, National Guard and military retirees who use the USO Lounge at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Volunteers will provide courteous service to guests while answering questions, managing DVD and video game check out, keeping the lounge neat, brewing coffee and replenishing snacks. Occasionally, volunteers will help with USO events in the Lounge. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have a valid U.S. identification. Access to a computer is preferred. Volunteers are required to attend an orientation. Contact Emily Urban at (703) 696-0958.
Volunteers are needed for a number of children’s activities taking place around Arlington this spring and summer. More information about these opportunities and others can be found on the Volunteer Arlington website.
- Arlington Little League is looking for assistant coaches to help with the spring 2012 season. Previous baseball coaching experience is not necessary. Assistant coaches help head coaches run practices and games, and participate in the overall management of the team. Volunteers should have the desire to work with children of all ages and skill levels to provide a fun and positive baseball experience. Contact Wayne Berry at 202-693-5585
- Jane Franklin Dance needs assistants for summer camps taking place July 9-13 and July 16-20. Volunteers will help with supervising participants during classes, participating in classes and clean up. No dance training is needed, just the ability to move, be creative and interact with children. Contact Jane Franklin at 703-933-1111.
- The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing needs help with an Easter egg hunt at Columbia Grove Apartments on March 28. The event runs from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and volunteers will help with set up, implementation and clean up. Being bilingual is helpful but not required. Contact Liz McElwee at 703-851-3635.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is seeking volunteers to help it handle a seasonal surge in orphaned kittens.
“Kitten season,” as it’s called, begins in the spring. The League is specifically looking for foster parents who can help care for orphaned kittens until they’re old enough to be adopted.
From the AWLA:
Each spring and summer our shelter receives orphaned kittens that are too young to survive on their own. They require round- the-clock feeding and nurturing for several weeks before they are old enough to be adopted. Once the kittens are ready for adoption, the foster parent returns them to the shelter for adoption into permanent homes. The League desperately needs foster parents with very flexible schedules who can care for these unweaned animals.
We are holding an Foster Volunteer Recruitment meeting on Monday, March 5th from 7:00-8:00 PM at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Arlington, VA 22206. At our informational meeting, experienced foster volunteers will give personal accounts of the time and commitment required. They will also share pictures and heartwarming stories of their experiences and what motivates them to foster our most vulnerable shelter animals.
Volunteer foster parents must be able to take the foster animals into their homes and provide a clean safe environment for them, as well as a lot of love and patience. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington will provide foster parents with the training they need to properly care for their kittens. The League also provides food, supplies, and veterinary care for foster animals.
The first step to become a foster parent is to complete our online volunteer application here at www.awla.org/volunteer.shtml, attend a volunteer orientation/training, and complete a home visit with the foster coordinator.
Linden Resources (formerly SOC Enterprises) is looking for a few good gardeners.
The non-profit, located at 750 S. 23rd Street near Crystal City, is seeking volunteers who enjoy gardening to help jump start the Linden Gardening Program.
“Volunteers will help to plant and cultivate plants using our greenhouse, plan and plant our outdoor vegetable gardens, provide weekly maintenance and weeding throughout the Summer months, and provide staff and the people with disabilities that we serve with gardening instruction and guidance,” the group said in an email. “If you are interested, please contact Amanda Chenkin at 703-521-4441 or achenkin@Linden.org.”
Founded in 1959, Linden provides jobs, job placement and vocational rehabilitation services for people with disabilities.
On March 17, ACE is holding its third annual Green Living Expo from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School. The event focuses on helping residents find practical ways to “green up” their lifestyles. Visitors will find green living seminars, a variety of local and national exhibitors, children’s activities, a raffle, sustainable eating food sales and cooking demonstrations.
The expo is free and open to the pubic, but the event is still short on volunteers. Extra help is needed from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., organizers say. Anyone who wants to lend a hand can get more information by calling 703-228-6427.
Looking for a way to give back this holiday season?
The county’s Volunteer Arlington program lists several holiday-related volunteer and donation opportunities that are open to interested members of the public.
- Thanksgiving Meal Delivery — The Arlington Knights of Columbus chapter is feeding some 2,000 needy people on Thanksgiving, and they need volunteers to help deliver meals or serve food in their North Arlington facility.
- Angel Tree Program Setup, Sorting and Distribution — Help the Salvation Army provide gifts to needy children and elderly citizens who would otherwise be left out on Christmas.
- Gift Wrapping at Pentagon City Mall — A gift wrapping service provided to shoppers at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City by Arms Outstretched Ministry. Proceeds benefit wounded warriors, deployed military personnel and their families.
- Secret Santa/Adopt-A-Family — Help provide gifts to needy families via the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.
- Arlington DHS Secret Santa — Donate gift cards to the Arlington Department of Human Services to make the holidays “a little happier for some of Arlington’s most vulnerable residents.”
The effort is part of the county’s 100 Homes Campaign, which will try to cut “chronic homelessness” in Arlington in half by July 2013. The campaign will place some of Arlington’s most medically-vulnerable homeless individuals — described as “those most likely to die if not housed quickly” — in permanent supportive housing.
The county is looking for volunteer surveyors, data entry personnel and headquarters staff to work from Oct. 17-19. Surveyors will be asked to go out in teams and interview homeless individuals from 3:30 to 7:30 a.m., while data entry will be done between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. More information on volunteering can be found on the 100 Homes Arlington web site.
“We have made great strides in addressing homelessness in Arlington, but our work is far from complete,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “The 100 Homes Campaign brings important focus to helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community – those living on the streets.”
Arlington’s campaign, co-chaired by County Board member and state Senate candidate Barbara Favola and Shooshan Company president John Shooshan, is based on the national 100,000 Homes campaign.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, dogs will compete for prizes in categories like best kisser, best tail wagger, cutest costume and fastest pooch. The day will also feature dog training, grooming, treats and rescues.
Arlington is seeking up to 25 volunteers to help with set up, registration, ribbons and prizes, dog games, judges’ paper work and end-of-program break down. Anyone interested should contact volunteer coordinator Rhonda Nibert online or at 703-228-4724.
Although information for this year’s event hasn’t been placed online yet, the info page from last year’s Dogtober Day is still available.
AHC Inc., an affordable housing developer, needs several dozen volunteers to tutor middle and high school teens. Tutors get paired with a student for the academic year and meet up once a week for 90 minutes at one of the program’s six locations. Several of the locations are Metro accessible.
More help is needed this year than in the past because the program has expanded the number of nights per week that tutoring is available to the teens.
The Teen Tutor orientation takes place on September 14 and 15. To get involved with the program, click here for the registration form. To request more information, contact Jennifer Cavaliere, email@example.com or 703-486-0626 x 154.