Arlington, VA

The food pantry for an Arlington church is starting to run dangerously low on supplies for their weekly food distribution.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (2700 19th Street S.) runs a food pantry that, once a week, provides a full bag of groceries. With Catholic churches in the Arlington Diocese no longer meeting on Sundays, Father Timothy Hickey sent a letter on Sunday to the congregation saying the situation with the food pantry has become increasingly dire.

“The number of families we serve has increased each of the past several weeks, and we anticipate that will only continue to grow,” Hickey said. “At the same time, with in-person masses suspended, our donations (both monetarily and food items) have considerably decreased. Combine those two factors and it is not difficult to appreciate the challenge we are facing.”

The church is not alone in this. Local organizations like the Arlington Food Assistance Center have also seen increasing needs and decreasing access to the traditional sources of donations.

“While everything else in our parish has scaled back and otherwise paused during this pandemic, our entire parish leadership very strongly feels it is vital to keep the Food Pantry open and continue to serve this community in need,” Hickey said. “We have a small but mighty staff and volunteers that are committed to keeping this ministry going to the best of our abilities.”

Hickey said there were three ways to contribute to the food pantry.

Monetary donations can be made online. A general donation will include the food pantry as well as money to pay for church staff salaries, but there is also an option to just donate to the pantry.

Food can also be dropped off at the shelter. Hickey said a bin will be placed behind the church from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is also a list of specific foods requested for donation:

  • 1 bag of rice, any size (bigger ones will be split into a 1 lbs. bag)
  • 1 bag of dry beans, 1 lbs. or two cans of beans (prefer black, pinto or small red beans)
  • 1 pack of long or short pasta
  • 1 jar of pasta sauce approx. 24 oz. (any flavor is great)
  • 1 box of low sugar cereals (eg. Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Cheerios)
  • 1 can of corn approx. 16 oz
  • 1 can of green vegetables approx. 16 oz (eg. green beans, sweet peas)
  • 1 can of fruit in light syrup or in its own juices
  • 2 cans of tuna or packs of tuna in water or oil
  • 1 bottle of oil, 48 oz.
  • 1 bag of Tortimasa (no cornmeal)

The church, in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood, is also requesting help from volunteers to help break food into smaller servings for individual grocery bags.

To this end, the following are our current volunteer needs.

  • 2 Food Sourcing Volunteers — These volunteers will be calling the list of stores and other food sources (eg. Costco, BJ’s, Restaurant Depot) each week to determine which of the Food Pantry needed items are in stock. Ultimately, these volunteers will be coming up with the shopping list and location for the volunteer grocery shoppers. Because so many stores are running out of items, the ideal volunteer for this role will have plenty of patience and persistence. When Plans A, B and C don’t work out because the stores can’t meet the demand, we are looking for creative and resourceful personalities who thrive on figuring out the plan even if that means getting all the way down to Plans X, Y and Z. The ideal volunteer for this role can commit to weekly or every other week outreach through mid-June.
  • 4 Bulk Grocery Shoppers — For this role that involves receiving the grocery list and completing the grocery run for bulk items, the ideal volunteer will have a large car, be able to carry large amounts of heavy items and would be able to commit to weekly or every other week grocery runs through midJune.
  • 1 Signage Volunteer — Any budding artists among us? Signs are needed to clearly mark the bins where in-person donations will be received. This is a short term and immediate need. Perhaps ideal for one of our Religious Education families?
  • 1 Admin Assistant — This ideal volunteer is someone with strong computer skills to help organize various aspects of this effort such as creating volunteer lists, organizing team calls and various other types of simple items that come up. Ideally would be able to commit through mid-June.

“It is only through your generosity that we are able to continue to help supplement their food needs,” Hickey said, “especially in this time of crisis.”

Photo via Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church

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Morning Notes

Three COVID Cases at Pentagon City Apartment — “Three residents of the largest apartment building in Arlington — The Bartlett owned by JBG Smith Properties — have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, according to messages sent to Bartlett tenants.” [Washington Business Journal]

Elton John Tweets About Barrett Elementary Video — “The staff at @BarrettAPS recorded their own music video to @TaronEgerton’s version of ‘I’m Still Standing’ and it’s so much fun!” [Twitter]

Library Launches ‘Quaranzine’ — “Liz Laribee, the programs and partnerships librarian at Arlington Public Library, says she thinks in puns. So, when the word ‘quaranzine’ popped into her head a little over a week ago, it gave her an idea. On April 3, the library published the first issue of Quaranzine, a weekly online collection of works by local artists responding to the coronavirus pandemic.” [DCist, Arlington Public Library]

Dems See Few Refund Requests After Event Cancelled — “Arlington County Democratic Committee leaders say the party did not take a big financial hit due to the cancellation of its Blue Victory Dinner, which traditionally brings in about a third of operating revenue for county Democrats each year. ‘We had very few folks ask for refunds,’ party chair Jill Caiazzo said… Democratic leaders offered those, who were willing to let the party keep the ticket prices, access to an online event.” [InsideNova]

ACFD Accepting Donations of Food But Not Supplies — “Thank you all for the generosity. You are amazing!! We have have been getting a lot of questions about donating PPE (masks, gloves, respirators, etc). At this time we are NOT collecting any supplies.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

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Morning Notes

Governor Urges Va. Residents to Wear Masks — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday urged all residents to wear a cloth mask if they must leave their home… In light of the state’s prohibition of wearing masks law, Northam said Friday that “no law enforcement will be bothering anybody because they have a covering on their face.” [Patch]

One-Day Donation Drive Results — Arlington County collected 3,484 food items, 269 boxes of N95 masks, 323 boxes of surgical masks and 740 homemade masks during a one-day donation drive on Friday. [Arlington County, NBC 4]

VHC Gets Mask Donations — “We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our community! Shout out to all of the individuals and businesses who have donated food and supplies to our team on the front lines of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Pub Owner Now Working As Cop — Mark Kirwin, the Irish-born owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington and Kirwin’s on the Wharf in D.C., has closed both pubs during the coronavirus outbreak and is instead spending his days working as a reserve police office in the District. [RTE]

AM Water Main Break in CourthouseUpdated at 9:35 a.m. — “NB & SB N Courthouse Rd closed between 13th St N & 14th St N until further notice for emergency repairs. Seek an alternative route.” [Twitter]

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Have some unopened boxes of surgical gowns or masks lying around? If so, Arlington is hoping you’ll donate them.

The county is setting up a one-day only drive-through donation drive this coming Friday. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Arlington Central Library parking lot along 10th Street near N. Quincy Street.

The county is seeking unused boxes of nitrile or vinyl examination gloves , N95 or KN95 masks , surgical masks, protective surgical gowns , homemade masks, cleaning products and supplies , and non-perishable food items.

There is a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment like masks and gowns amid the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to get worse in Arlington.

More from a press release:

Arlington County is seeking donations of unused, unopened containers of essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and certain food to assist essential employees, nonprofits and community organizations with coronavirus (COVID-19) response operations.

A drive-thru donation station will be available on Friday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Central Library parking lot on 10th Street North. This activity conforms to the requirements of Governor Northam’s Stay-At-Home order, but if you are ill, please do not come or donate supplies.

Requested items include:

  • Nitrile or vinyl examination gloves
  • N95 or KN95 masks
  • Surgical masks
  • Protective surgical gowns
  • Homemade masks
  • Cleaning products and supplies
  • Non-perishable food items, especially heart-healthy items low in sodium or sugar

No other donations will be accepted at this event. 

Upon arrival, donors must stay in their cars until they reach the unloading area. There, donors will place their donation onto a cart and return to their vehicles to ensure proper social distancing. A separate line will be available for donors who arrive on foot or by bike.

All donors are expected to observe the proper physical distance of six feet in accordance with Governor Northam’s Stay-At-Home Order.

If you are unable to drop off donations, many other essential requests from Arlington nonprofits are posted on the Volunteer Arlington webpage. Most nonprofits’ primary need is funding.

People who donate are helping ensure essential supplies get to Arlington health care workers, first responders, and County and community workers whose essential jobs put them at risk of coronavirus exposure. Together, we will protect the health and safety of all Arlingtonians.

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Virginia Hospital Center has received a sizable donation of surgical masks and gowns amid a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Arlington-based Marymount University donated 550 surgical masks, 110 isolation gowns, 60 full-body suits and seven reusable goggles from its Department of Nursing, the school tells ARLnow.

“When I became aware of the dire circumstances that the nurses at VHC were in, I responded without hesitation,” Dr. Catherine Hillberry, technology coordinator for the nursing school, said in a press release. “[We] are committed to serving others and supporting the community in difficult times – and stepping up to help those who put their lives on the line daily to help save lives is a privilege.”

The donation was greeted with appreciation from workers at the hospital.

“The generous donation of PPE is having a direct and positive impact in my unit. Having it available means we have the tools and resources necessary to do our jobs,” said Karin Kutscher, an ICU nurse at Virginia Hospital Center and a Marymount grad.

“When we leave the hospital, there is a risk of increased exposure if we do not have proper supplies when caring for our patients,” said Alicia Marconi, a Marymount instructor and another ICU nurse at the hospital. “If we, the health care workers, get sick, then there are fewer of us to take care of patients in need.”

Virginia Hospital Center is currently accepting donations of goggles, hand sanitizer, face shields, medical isolation gowns, bleach and bleach wipes, but only in unopened boxes, according to a “community support” web page set up by the hospital.

“Please email [email protected] to connect with our team,” VHC said, adding that it is “not accepting donations of homemade masks for safety reasons.”

The hospital is also accepting donations of individually packaged food via restaurants and catering companies. For others who want to help during this trying time, VHC notes that “blood donations across the country have dropped significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic response” and “individuals are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from donating blood.”

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Arlington residents in and around Crystal City will be able to make food donations at three drop-off points Saturday morning.

FLARE, a new electric shuttle service, will be picking up donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“During this challenging time, we are eager to use FLARE electric shuttles to benefit our neighbors and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. We urge our friends and neighbors to make much-needed food donations to AFAC tomorrow morning, and we’ll deliver the contributions to AFAC,” said FLARE CEO Andres Delgado, in a statement.

AFAC is bracing for a dramatic increase in food need in Arlington, amid the coronavirus crisis and a drop in donations.

Drop-off donations will be accepted this Saturday (March 21) from 8-11 a.m. at 516 25th Street S., 2729 Fort Scott Drive, and 2100 Crystal Drive.

“Food items that are in greatest need are: rice, pasta, low-sugar cereal, canned tomatoes, canned soup, canned tuna fish, and canned beans (no glass),” FLARE noted.

AFAC announced Friday that it is also setting up food collection boxes outside of six (closed) Arlington community centers.

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Amazon, Arlington’s new neighbor, has donated $1 million in “emergency COVID-19 response funds” to four large D.C. area community foundations.

Among those to benefit are the Arlington Community Foundation.

“The donation will be used to provide resources to organizations working with communities disproportionately impacted by coronavirus and the economic consequences of the outbreak — including hourly workers, people experiencing homelessness, and the elderly,” the company said on its blog.

Amazon “is also providing additional cash and in-kind support to five food service providers in the Washington D.C. region,” including the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

“The Washington, D.C. area is our new home, and we must rally together to support our neighbors during this difficult time,” said Amazon PR and policy chief Jay Carney. “In addition to making sure our Amazon customers can get the essentials they need, we will support our community partners who are doing life-saving work. Amazon’s $1 million donation to these four community groups will provide fast, flexible support to those who need it most and encourage a wave of additional community donations during this unprecedented time.”

“We know that we are stronger together and hope this gift will inspire others to jump in and do what they can to improve outcomes for our neighbors in need,” Jennifer Owens, president and CEO of the Arlington Community Foundation said in a statement.

“We hope this is the first of many donations by Amazon and our other corporate citizens who recognize the need to partner with County government, and Arlington non-profits during this public health crisis,” said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey.

Aside from Arlington, the funds will also be used in Alexandria; D.C.; Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; plus Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William counties and the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park.

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Morning Notes

Don’t Ride Metro Unless You Must, Says Metro — “Effective… Wednesday, March 18 — and continuing until further notice — Metro service will operate as follows: Rail system hours and service levels are further reduced to support essential travel only. DO NOT TRAVEL UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Follow guidance from your state and local authorities. New hours: Weekdays 5AM-11PM, Sat/Sun 8AM-11PM. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each line at all times.” [WMATA, Twitter]

Utility Disconnections, Evictions Suspended — Arlington County has suspended water disconnections, Dominion has suspended power disconnections, and courts in Virginia has suspended evictions, giving those who are unable to pay their bills during the coronavirus outbreak a chance to stay in their homes. [Twitter, Dominion, Press Release, Twitter]

Police Can Now Enforce State Crowd Ban — “I just issued an emergency order with @VDHCommissioner to enforce Virginia’s statewide ban of more than 10 patrons in restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers. Please use common sense. If you were considering ignoring this limit — don’t.” [Twitter, Gov. Ralph Northam]

Compass Coffee Lays Off Most Employees — “”Compass Coffee, a DC based company just laid off 180 of their 200 employees abruptly.” [PoPville]

Vintage Restaurant Group Shutters Locations — The operator of iconic local restaurants Ragtime, Rhodeside Grill and William Jeffrey’s Tavern is closing its locations until further notice. [Twitter]

Four Courts Donates Extra Food to AFAC — “We just dropped off fresh produce @AFACfeeds… their need is still great.” [Twitter]

Marymount Extends Online-Only Classes — “In order to continue ensuring the health and safety of the campus community, Marymount University will extend its online-only class period to Tuesday, April 14 (previously March 30), as the greater Washington region sees increased cases of COVID-19.” [Press Release]

Macy’s Closes Stores Nationwide — “Macy’s is closing all of its stores nationwide, effective at the end of business Tuesday through March 31, to try to help curb the spread of COVID-19.” [CNBC]

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Morning Notes

Mass Cancelled at Catholic Churches — “On Monday, March 16, 2020, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington… announced that the public celebration of all Masses in the Diocese is suspended until further notice.” [Press Release]

Food Donations Needed — “We have already seen a sharp decrease in food donations from our local grocery stores. AFAC has begun to purchase more food to offset the drop of food available on our shelves. Please think about making a donation to AFAC to help us keep our warehouse full for our families in need.” [Arlington Food Assistance Center]

Regional Park Facilities Closed — “While park and facilities are open for individual use, programs organized by NOVA Parks are canceled. All NOVA Parks facilities and buildings will be closed beginning at the close of business on March 16 and remaining closed for at least two weeks. Many parks will remain open for passive use – trails, general visitation, etc.” [NOVA Parks]

Community Centers Closed — The following Arlington rec centers are closed: Aurora Hills Community Center, Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center, Carver Community Center, Charles Drew Community Center, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Gunston Community Center, Hendry House, Lee Community Center, Long Branch Nature Center and Madison Community Center. The Fairlington, Walter Reed, Arlington Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Langston-Brown community centers remain open with modified hours. [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Mall: Before and After — Photos of the Pentagon City mall food court before and after the coronavirus outbreak shows a stark difference: bustling before vs. nearly deserted after. [Twitter]

White House: Avoid Gatherings of 10+ — “The White House’s coronavirus task force announced tougher guidelines on Monday to help slow the spread of the disease, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people.” [Axios]

It’s St. Patrick’s Day — Enjoy a Guinness at home because most places to celebrate are closed, or at least should be. [Old Farmer’s Almanac]

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Morning Notes

Transit Union Gets Its Money Back from Dorsey — “Union verifies (to me, 5 minutes ago) that it has received [embattled County Board member Christian Dorsey’s] repayment of $10,000 campaign donation.” [Twitter]

Board Advances Reeves Farmhouse Plan — “The [Reeves] farmhouse will be preserved and protected as a historic site, the parkland around the house will stay as parkland, and the County will get much needed housing for people with developmental disabilities without our taxpayers footing the bill. It’s a win-win-win.” [Arlington County]

Va. Legislature OKs Amazon Delivery Bots — “Amazon.com Inc. package delivery robots could soon hit Virginia’s sidewalks and roadways. The General Assembly has made quick work of a bill that would clear the way for Scout, Amazon’s six-wheeled delivery robot, to operate in the commonwealth.” [Washington Business Journal]

Airport Helper Service to Launch Tomorrow — “Goodbye, airport chaos… SkySquad is launching this week at Reagan Airport to improve the airport experience for anyone who needs an extra hand. Travel is stressful for most people, especially families with young kids; and senior citizens who need extra support.” [Press Release]

A Look at Arlington’s Oldest Families — A series of articles profiling long-time local families takes a look at the Parks, the Shreves, the Smiths, the Syphaxes, the Birches and the Thomases. [Arlington Magazine]

Sheriff’s Office Welcomes New K-9 — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office recently welcomed its newest K-9 officer – Logan, a one-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever who is paired with handler Cpl. Matthew Camardi. The duo will work in narcotics detection and other specialized fields. [InsideNova]

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Last week a local church presented non-profit CRi with a check for $250,000 to support the building of a new home for those with mental health needs and developmental disabilities.

The donation was funded by the congregation of Grace Community Church, which holds services at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (125 S. Old Glebe Road) in Arlington.

The non-profit said the funding will assist in the construction of a new home for six people in Arlington, which will be called The Grace Home, according to a press release.

“We began this year talking about a capital campaign, not to build a building, but to build a better community,” Lead Pastor John Slye Jr. said in a video. “After a lot of discussion, research and prayer we decided to partner with CRi.”

CRi, formerly known as Arlington Community Residences, is a non-profit that provides specialized services as well as home and community support to individuals with developmental disabilities. The organization also provides mental health services and independent housing to at-risk youth who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or aging out of foster care.

“We currently have a home we’ve resided in for a long time that’s inaccessible to people as they age, so we made the decision to replace” it, CRi President and CEO Arthur Ginsberg said. The new house is currently under construction on the 2200 block of N. Glebe Road, next to the Shell station.

Image via Grace Community Church

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