Arlington, VA

With FRK9 Brooks as its mascot, the Arlington County Police Department is hosting a “Fill the Cruiser” pet supply drive to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

“FRK9 Brooks has a case of puppy love and is asking for your help ensuring his furry valentines at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington have the supplies they need,” a press release said. “For more than 75 years, AWLA has served the Arlington community with animal sheltering and control services to help pet owners keep their animals healthy, happy, and home.”

The drive, this Friday, Feb. 12 from 2-5 p.m., will be held at a contactless, drive-through donation station set up outside the Animal Welfare League of Arlington on the 2600 block of S. Arlington Mill Drive.

FRK9 Brooks, who turned one in November, is being trained for this. A police service dog, his responsibilities include participating in community outreach events and helping officers deal with “strong emotions and stress that are often an inherent part of policing,” ACPD said back in August.

Suggested donations include cleaning supplies, treats, Vienna sausages, Easy Cheese, toys, pill pockets, leashes, and buckle collars. A full list of supplies AWLA can accept is available on its website.

AWLA cannot accept pillows, sheets, comforters, plastic dishes, used cat scratchers, towers, trees and litter boxes, used or extra-large dog beds or prescription medications.

On arriving, participants are asked to stay in their cars until they reach the unloading areas. Officers will be on-hand to remove donations from their vehicles.

There will be a separate area available for those arriving by bike or on foot.

Photos #1-3 from the file, photo #4 via Arlington County 

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(Updated 4 p.m.) Since Girl Scout cookie season started, troops in north Arlington have donated 671 boxes to their hometown heroes: the staff at Virginia Hospital Center.

“It’s very local and very personal,” said Dorine Andrews, the Service Unit Manager for the local scouts. “[VHC] is a real institution in Northern Virginia, and we really feel that the healthcare workers are overworked.”

One of the troops — six Glebe Elementary 3rd grade girls of Brownie troop #60229 — harnessed the power of Instagram to sell 1,415 boxes, 395 of which they donated to VHC, she said. The troop with the second-most boxes, #60160, donated 59 boxes.

“None of the other troops have really done what this troop has done in terms of social media,” Andrews said. “It really worked well.”

The third-grade entrepreneurs used Instagram to work around some limitations to the online Girl Scout cookie platform, she said.

“The system works fairly well for buying cookies online, but for any kind of custom donations, it’s very difficult,” Andrews said. “I think these girls and their parents were incredibly creative.”

The cookies will be distributed via a “sunshine cart,” which one employee volunteers to wheel through the hospital, distributing snacks to boost morale, said Hilary Phillips, the executive assistant to the president at Virginia Hospital Center Foundation.

“We are thrilled that our local Girl Scout Service Unit has adopted Virginia Hospital Center as its ‘Hometown Hero,’ collecting more than 650 boxes of cookies to share with our staff,” Phillips said in a statement. “We continue to be grateful for the incredible support we receive from the Arlington Community.”

Phillips said the foundation tries to feed staff who work directly with COVID-19 patients, which works out to about 140 people each shift. Other local organizations have also pitched in.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has donated thousands of lunches to nurses. Local startup HUNGRY facilitated the donation of 600 meals to VHC in January, in addition to its other local food donation efforts.

But Phillips is looking for more support.

“Now I’m going on local people calling out of goodness of people’s heart,” she said.

Donations can be made by going to the foundation’s donation page and select “Healthy Meals for Clinical Staff by TryHungry.com.” Those who want to loop in a local restaurant through their donations can contact Phillips directly at [email protected]virginiahospitalcenter.com

Those interested in donating cookies can email Andrews at  [email protected].

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For Jeff Grass, CEO and Chairman of Ballston-based startup HUNGRY, a food distribution event in Arlington yesterday (Wednesday) had a bittersweet flavor to it.

While the company was able to prepare 6,000 hot meals for people in need at a drive-thru food distribution event at Central United Methodist Church (4201 Fairfax Drive) near its headquarters, it’s also a painful reminder that nearly one year after a global pandemic began, many Americans face a food accessibility crisis.

“On the one hand, it makes you feel good to be able to do something and it was nice to see how appreciative people are,” Grass said, “but seeing so many people coming by and needing a free meal highlights just how big and prevalent the challenge is. We’re Arlington, one of the richest counties in the country, and yet so many people are in need of food assistance.”

The company was able to distribute most of the 6,000 prepared meals in an event that ran from 1:30-3 p.m., and the remaining couple hundred that were left over were given to a local shelter.

Grass said he didn’t have an estimate on how many people attended the food drive, saying “it was car after car,” but that the company mostly limited the meals to ten per vehicle. HUNGRY had no protocols set up to screen for income levels, saying that anyone who showed up the the event was considered in sufficient need of a meal.

The handful of nicer vehicles, Grass said, were also a reminder of how much the pandemic had turned some lives upside down.

“I didn’t feel like it was up to us to challenge people,” Grass said. “Some people did drive up in nice vehicles, but everybody’s got their own challenges and stories, and everybody seemed to really appreciate it.”

The food distribution events had the added benefit of supporting the local chefs using the platform, particularly catering chefs who were some of the earliest victims of local business impacts.

“We’re in late January, past the holidays, it felt like the right time to do it,” Grass said.

It was the second major food donation initiative in January for the company. The first was a food delivery operation last week to National Guard troops posted in D.C. for presidential inauguration security following the riot at the Capitol earlier this month.

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When Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse delivered food to the security personnel in the District on Monday, it took two-and-a-half hours and many phone calls — even to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser — to pass each checkpoint. 

“When I arrived the Commander of that unit and the policeman literally cheered, [saying] ‘Bayou Bakery is here,'” Guas tells ARLnow.

Bayou Bakery and Arlington-founded District Taco are helping nourish the 25,000 servicemen and women, along with law enforcement, deployed to protect the nation’s capital during the 59th Inauguration.

The homegrown Mexican chain donated 2,000 burritos to the National Guard on Monday. The day before, Guas said he and his crew worked into the night to prepare biscuits and sandwich lunches for the Monday delivery.

The two join about 30 D.C.-area restaurants distributing meals to the multitudes, hailing from Maine to Guam. The heightened security is in response to the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.  

District Taco donated burritos that were pledged during a “Buy One, Give One Burrito” campaign in December.

On Monday, CEO and co-founder Osiris Hoil cashed in all 2,000 BOGO burritos to feed the National Guard. He said they were so popular that supplies ran out long before the lunch hours ended.

“When I saw the brave servicemen and women protecting the Capitol building, I knew exactly where I wanted those pledged burritos to go,” Hoil said in a press release. 

District Taco also donated hundreds of burritos to essential workers in hospitals and food banks last October and November. Hoil said he is proud to continue this longstanding tradition of giving back.

“Thanks to the support of our community, our restaurants are still open,” Hoil said. 

Guas also uses his food for good. He co-founded Chefs Feeding Families during the pandemic and has cooked for the annual awards dinner put on by Blue Star Families.

“Not having served in the military myself — but having grandparents that did — I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to help our men and women in uniform who protect our freedom,” he said.

Guas credits his involvement to Micheline Mendelsohn Luhn and Spike Mendelsohn, his friends and two of the family members behind We, The Pizza. The duo told ABC News that D.C. restaurants — despite struggles during the pandemic — are pitching in to provide fresh food to upwards of 5,000 people, who might otherwise have to rely on pre-packaged military meals, each day.

Photos (1) via District Taco, (2-3) via Bayou Bakery

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Barstool Sports’ COVID-19 relief fund is helping keep long-time Crystal City hangout Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant afloat.

The LGBTQ-friendly bar at 555 23rd Street S., known for its Sunday brunches and drag queen shows, is one of nearly 40 businesses so far to receive relief from the jocular online media company. The fund has raised more than $9 million from about 78,000 supporters since Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy officially launched it on Dec. 17.

“Dave, you are a godsend,” co-owner Rich Lutz told Portnoy in a FaceTime call today (Tuesday). “This is really, really special to see your face in my kitchen right now.”

Portnoy appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show last week to talk about The Barstool Fund, which is how Lutz says he learned about the program. Staff “scrambled” to put together a video telling the bar’s story, he told Barstool in an email.

Since opening in March 2001, Freddie’s continues to be Northern Virginia’s only gay bar, co-owner Freddie Lutz told the Barstool Fund in his funding pitch. The community gathering spot is known as a safe space for gay military personnel and also attracts families for post-church Sunday brunch.

“I don’t know of any bar that is more diverse and welcoming than Freddie’s,” he said.

The brothers keep the restaurant open every holiday to ensure everyone has “a family meal,” and they host a yearly toy drive.

So far, the brothers have managed to keep the lights on and its 25 employees on payroll. At one point, Amazon purchased 1,753 meals from the restaurant, which were donated to Virginia Hospital Center. Rather than try to fill the entire order himself, Freddie spread it out to a dozen nearby restaurants — an act that “breathed life, energy, and activity into the independent restaurants that make up the core of 23rd Street.”

Still, Freddie’s was recently on the brink of closure.

“Like so many others, Freddie’s is struggling and on the verge of shutting down,” Freddie told Barstool.

During his call with Rich, Portnoy praised the bar and restaurant’s story.

“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “We saw the video and we knew instantly that we wanted to help.”

Rich could not thank the Barstool Sports founder and media personality enough.

“With all the terrible things going on in the world right now, having a breath of fresh air like you is just absolutely wonderful,” he said. “I only hope that when everything opens, you will come visit us.”

Barstool Sports did not disclose the amount of money Freddie’s would be getting, and the Lutzes were not immediately available to comment.

Writer and Barstool Sports show host Pat McAuliffe praised Portnoy’s pick in a blog post about Freddie’s.

“I could go on and on about how important bars like Freddie’s are to the LGBTQ community, but I won’t,” he said. “Instead I’m going to give you THIS LINK to donate to help more businesses like Freddie’s across the country.”

The Barstool Fund started with $500,000 of the media company’s funds and has since raised nearly 20 times that amount through donations and merchandise sales.

Businesses qualify if owners are continuing to pay their staff despite struggling to stay open. Portnoy pledged recurring relief for the businesses that are selected, so that rather than delaying an inevitable closure, the businesses have a chance at surviving post-pandemic.

“We’ll do it through the life of this thing,” Portnoy said on Carlson’s show.

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Longtime Arlington residents who founded a Rosslyn-based online university are donating $50,000 to help local small businesses.

In 1998, Yanping Chen and J. Davidson Frame established the University of Management and Technology, a fully online school enrolling national and international students, located at 1901 Fort Myer Drive. Their $50,000 donation comes from the Chen Frame Foundation, which they started to support educational causes across the world.

But now, they are thinking closer to home.

“COVID-19 brought to mind that we’re not focused enough on our own backyard,” Frame said.

Arlington Economic Development will use the money to help pay for new initiatives, such as educational programming and online services, to help small businesses through the pandemic.

Together with a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funding, AED is expecting about $250,000 in new funding for its pandemic-focused programs, AED Director Telly Tucker said. The department will release more information on the new efforts the money will be funding in the next few weeks, he said.

Arlington County has about 6,000 enterprises that employ fewer than 50 people, which is AED’s definition of a small business, Tucker said.

Pre-pandemic, about three staff members from AED handled outreach to these small businesses. When businesses were forced to shut down or change their operations, the three-person staff was swamped with questions on everything from how to apply for federal assistance programs to how to set up temporary outdoor seating areas to how to keep employees safe.

“It was all hands on deck: We were working together to do what we could to support businesses,” Tucker said. “The overall takeaway for me was that there was no playbook for us to go by on how to navigate during a pandemic.”

But existing business owners were not the only ones with questions. Many who had lost their job or were furloughed saw the pandemic and their new-found extra time as an opportunity to pursue their goals of owning a business, and needed help getting started, he said.

“I ran the entrepreneurship program at George Washington University for several years,” Frame said. “All the time, people would come off the street and describe some new, really weird idea. They would pick my brain. I understand some of the challenges they face — they have lots of questions.”

After listening to business owners, AED came up with a list of efforts that could help, including retaining a few experts who could answer questions “on everything from finances to business-legal services,” Tucker said.

With the influx of cash, AED is also looking to launch an e-commerce platform for small-scale retail stores in the County, in addition to spending more on marketing campaigns to encourage people to shop local.

The County Board heard the news about the donation during its recessed meeting on Dec. 15. It is the first donation of its kind since the Board authorized County Manager Mark Schwartz this year to accept donations of $50,000 or less.

“I wanted to say a hearty thank you,” Schwartz said of the donation. “I hope that when the pandemic is over, I can meet both these [people] in person and give them the commendation that they deserve.”

Schwartz will ask the Board in January to appropriate the money.

Photo courtesy University of Management and Technology

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Morning Notes

Ranked Choice Voting Faces Hurdles — “The biggest current challenge? Election software used by the county allows for ranked-choice voting, but only in elections with three or fewer candidates. A pending software upgrade would bring that to five candidates, but ‘I don’t think legally we can limit the number of candidates that can run,’ Reinemeyer said.” [InsideNova]

Levine Running for Lt. Gov. — “Virginia Del. Mark Levine on Monday announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor, joining a roster of nearly a dozen candidates vying for the position. Levine, a 54-year-old Democrat from Alexandria, has served in the state’s House of Delegates since 2016 and represents parts of Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the city of Alexandria.” [DCist]

Credit Union Announces Donations — The staff of Arlington Community Federal Credit Union selected four local nonprofits for the credit union to support with year-end donations: Culmore Clinic, Edu-Futuro, Arlington Department of Human Services’ Secret Santa program and Bridges to Independence. [ACFCU]

Scholarship Applications Open — “The Arlington Community Foundation has a well-established Annual Scholarship Program that in 2020 awarded over $400,000 in college scholarships to 80 new students and 100 renewal students… The scholarship application for the 2021-2022 school year will be available from December 18, 2020, to February 1, 2021.” [Arlington Community Foundation]

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Morning Notes

Cristol Recovering from Surgery — County Board member Katie Cristol was absent from this week’s Board meeting. She is on medical leave after surgery to treat Graves’ disease, she said. [Twitter]

Axios Makes Local News Moves — Clarendon-based media company Axios has purchased North Carolina-based Charlotte Agenda as it makes a push into local news. [New York Times]

Board Balks at Preservation Request — “Efforts to place the 9-acre Rouse estate at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road into a local historic district appear to have pushed the property owner to move forward with the ‘nuclear option‘… And, county officials say, there is not much they can do to prevent it. ‘Our hands are pretty much tied,’ County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said Dec. 12, effectively rebuffing a request that the county government take stronger actions.” [InsideNova]

Board Responds to Reopening Request — “A request that Arlington County Board members use their influence – whether through sweet-talking or something more forceful – to get county schools back up and running fell largely on deaf ears Dec. 12. Board members said they were working with their School Board counterparts, but had no power to force a reopening of schools that have been shuttered since last March.” [InsideNova]

Local Nonprofit Expands Aid — “Since April of this year [Arlington] Thrive has provided more than $5 million is assistance to 1,300 families and individuals, a dramatic increase from the $805,000 Thrive provided to families and individuals during the same period last year. Typical requests to Arlington Thrive used to be for one or two months rent but since the pandemic now extend to six or seven months.” [Press Release]

Church Continues Drive-Thru Donations — “Clarendon Presbyterian Church recently announced that it will continue holding monthly Drive-thru Food and Toiletry Collections to support our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Since the first Collection in June through the most recent one in December, the community donated the equivalent of 756 brown paper bags of groceries – an estimated value of $30,000.” [Press Release]

Northam Proposes State Budget — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday proposed a state budget that would restore some spending frozen earlier this year amid uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, updating a spending document that the General Assembly just finished tinkering with last month.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

COVID Case at County Jail — “An inmate in the Arlington County Detention Center has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is doing well and the medical contractor of the Detention Center will be closely managing his symptoms. This is the first inmate to have contracted the COVID-19 virus and the Sheriff’s Office is taking all necessary steps to ensure the well being of those incarcerated.” [Arlington County]

Historic Designation for Rouse Estate? — “Members of the Arlington government’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) voted 10-0 on Nov. 17 to move forward on a preliminary study toward determining whether the 9-acre Rouse estate at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road meets qualifications to be designated as a local historic district.” [InsideNova]

Rainy Night On Tap — “The calendar flipped to meteorological winter Tuesday, and the atmosphere is going all in. A strong storm system could drench the coastal Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with a soaking shot of rainfall late Friday night into Saturday, while inland areas risk being blanketed by the first big snow of the season.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Toy Donation Event Sunday — “With Federal unemployment ending and the Marine’s Toys for Tots program seeing record low donations, The Arlington Knights of Columbus chapter will be holding a drive-thru Toys for Tots drop-off event. The event will take place at the Arlington Knights of Columbus on Sunday, December 6 from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. at 5115 Little Falls Road.” [Event Calendar]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is hosting its annual holiday clothing drive to benefit those experiencing homelessness from Monday (Nov. 30) through Dec. 15.

Accepted donations include winter coats, sweaters, sweatshirts, hats and gloves, which will be given to A-SPAN, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Arlington, which has distributed the donated items since 2011.

“While 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, we’re glad we can continue the Rosslyn BID’s partnership with A-SPAN to give back to our community this holiday season,” Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick said in a statement.

Those who want to make donations are encouraged to put their items in plastic bags and drop them off in gift-wrapped donation boxes at participating buildings in Rosslyn.

Last year, 205 bags of clothing were collected, and in 2018, 269 bags were collected.

The clothing drive coincides with A-SPAN’s hypothermia season, which started on Nov. 9. To prepare for the influx of people needing care through March, it added 35 beds to its Homeless Services Center, and will be providing three meals a day both at its services center and hypothermia shelter.

“Despite COVID-19, we provide 24/7 care which includes a 24/7 shelter, 24/7 nursing and medical respite services, and a commercial kitchen at the Center,” CEO Betsy Frantz said in a statement.

The increase in people needing assistance comes as coronavirus cases in Arlington are rising. The organization has implemented isolation and quarantine protocols, she said.

“Emergency protocols are overseen by our full-time onsite nurse practitioner,” Frantz said. “All clients are being rapid tested and all staff and clients have daily temperature checks.”

The participating Rosslyn residential buildings are:

  • 1800 Oak Apts. (1800 Oak)
  • Bennett Park (1601 Clarendon Blvd)
  • Homewood Suites (1900 N Quinn St)
  • River Place North (1121 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place East (1021 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place South (1011 Arlington Blvd)
  • River Place West (1111 Arlington Blvd)
  • Turnberry Tower (1881 N Nash)
  • Waterview (1111 19th St)

For those who do not live in these buildings, there will be a collection box outside the Rosslyn BID office at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive. The office will be open for donations Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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