(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) A townhouse in the East Falls Church neighborhood was badly damaged by a fire last night.
The fire broke out in a middle-of-the-row townhouse on the 6500 block of Washington Blvd around 11:30 p.m. on July 4. A large fire department response to the blaze blocked traffic near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Sycamore Street, one block from the Metro station.
Arriving firefighters reported encountering heavy fire coming from the home’s garage and extending up to the upper floors.
While the bulk of the flames were extinguished relatively quickly, firefighters were kept busy for more than an hour, searching for hotspots and ventilating the structure, according to scanner traffic. Additionally, several cats were rescued from inside the home.
This morning, fire investigators could be seen searching through the charred remains of the garage.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Arlington County Fire Department announced that while four animals were rescued and no humans were injured, one pet was found dead.
(2/2) The fire remains under investigation. Over 50 firefighters operated at the scene of the fire, with assistance provided by @ffxfirerescue. No injuries to firefighters or civilians were reported.
📸- Andrew Pang pic.twitter.com/pYjhTUQvIO
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 5, 2023
Watch: Lots of smoke from an 11:30 pm townhouse fire on Washington Blvd near Sycamore. @ArlingtonVaFD with @ffxfirerescue appear to have it under control. Arlington traffic-cams via @safetyvid. @ARLnowDOTcom #firefighters #safety pic.twitter.com/Am6RDApsS6
— Dave Statter (@STATter911) July 5, 2023
Early this morning, firefighters also responded to a fire at the Frederick at Courthouse apartment building, at 2230 Fairfax Drive, shortly after 1 a.m.
Initial reports suggest that fireworks disposed of in the trash chute caused a fire that filled a portion of the building with smoke and set off sprinklers, dousing the flames but also causing water damage in numerous apartments.
An enraged man shoved an innocent bystander, seriously injuring them, after an argument with someone else on a bus.
That’s according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. The alleged incident happened around 8 p.m. Tuesday near the East Falls Church Metro station.
The 29-year-old suspect was latest arrested.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2023-06200252, 2000 block of N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 8:07 p.m. on June 20, police were dispatched to an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect was engaged in a verbal dispute on a bus. After exiting, the suspect allegedly pushed the victim, who was not involved in the initial dispute, to the ground before fleeing the scene on foot. The victim sustained serious injuries and was transported to an area hospital. The suspect was located in the area and detained with the assistance of the City of Falls Church Police Department. He sustained minor injuries and did not require medical attention. [The suspect], 29, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding.
Loyal fans of One More Page Books in East Falls Church are helping the store keep the lights on — literally.
The bookstore, a staple in the community for 12 years that often works with Arlington Public Library and local schools, recently held a fundraiser to help pay for needed maintenance and to help the shop stick with its current slate of publisher vendors.
As of Monday evening, the well-loved bookstore at 2200 N. Westmoreland Street raised nearly $36,000 — surpassing its $35,000 goal — from some 400 donors over the course of 10 days. The largest was an anonymous $2,500 donation.
“We are overwhelmed with the response and the words of encouragement from our customers and the community,” owner Eileen McGervey told ARLnow. “It is difficult to ask for help and then to have such a rapid response is humbling.”
McGervey says she wishes the funds would go toward something “fun and exciting,” but instead it will go to fixing its lighting and HVAC system.
“About a third of our ceiling lighting units are no longer working, so there are certain parts of the store that are dark,” she said.
The funds will also make One More Page whole after paying for recent repairs to its air conditioning unit and plumbing.
“Since the overflow pan is in the ceiling, we have had water come down into the store — books and water are not a good mix,” McGervey said.
Any money leftover could help pay for “a few fun ideas for the store design,” she says.
McGervey says the bookstore is cutting costs where it can but that applies to future expenses, not those the store has already had to incur. In addition to fixing the AC unit, that includes ongoing costs associated with maintaining its website, which was upgraded during the pandemic to facilitate online ordering.
“The profit margin for small businesses is notoriously small, and over time, even new small expenses or slight revenue dips add up,” she wrote in the fundraiser. “And, like all of you, our rent and other expenses continue to rise.”
When rent rose by 30% in 2019, One More Page also turned to the community, hosting an online auction that ultimately helped it raise $20,374. That money paid the publisher vendors McGervey could not pay after covering rent.
The fundraiser for covering repairs and paying vendors this time around is ongoing. McGervey encourages supporters to continue shopping at the store, in person or online, and at Libro.fm for audiobooks. Supports can also attend events, become a Patreon member and buy branded t-shirts.
With the approach of summer comes a slower event schedule but One More Page does have a launch party scheduled for local author Jonathan Harper, for his book “You Don’t Belong Here” on June 4.
The store is also planning to support Arlington Public Library’s event with author Imani Perry at Central Library on June 22 and to likely host a repeat of its “highly popular” Puzzle Exchange night.
On July 18, the shop will celebrate the release of “The Inner Ear of Don Zientara” with Antonia Tricarico and special guests Don Zientara, Amanda MacKaye and Joe Lally, followed by an event to celebrate the July 25 release of “Ghosted” by store staffer Amanda Quain.
The exemption applies to certain 5,000-6,000 square-foot lots — the county’s smallest standardized residential lot size, dubbed R-5 and R-6, respectively — located near transit and within planning districts in East Falls Church, Cherrydale and Columbia Pike.
In the nearly 150-page long report on the zoning ordinance changes, Arlington County says the three properties in East Falls Church, 49 properties in Cherrydale and 82 near the Pike could be assembled with other properties that previous planning efforts have identified for redevelopment.
“Within these planning districts, there are locations where reinvestment has not yet occurred and assembly of the R-5 and R-6 zoned parcels with parcels along the corridor frontage could realize identified plan goals for the revitalization district,” per the county report outlining the approved Missing Middle zoning changes.
Assembling these properties with nearby lots could allow developers to realize the vision for these corridors, the report says.
This includes “mixed use development, improvements to the public realm, walkability, increased housing supply, housing affordability, and creation of coordinated buffer or transition zones to lower density residential areas,” the county says.
In East Falls Church, transit-oriented development near the Metro station has languished and many planning goals from a 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan remain unrealized. While there are some new townhouses within walking distance, an empty parking lot and a standalone parking garage are two examples of “prime real estate” awaiting redevelopment.
This includes two single-family homes — across the street from the “Kiss and Ride” lot — identified for potential redevelopment in the 2011 plan, which faced strong opposition from some who said it encouraged too much development, despite the proximity to a Metro station.
The other exempted property, though zoned as residential, is home to a telecommunications building owned by Verizon and a parking lot. The back of this surface parking lot is across the street from the East Falls Church Metro station; some commuters use it to cut through the block north of the station, per the 2011 plan.
“The Verizon building is anticipated to remain in use for the foreseeable future,” the 2011 plan notes. “However the rear portion of the lot, which is a largely unused parking lot, has potential for redevelopment.”
The plan envisions townhouses or low-rise multifamily development of three to four stories. Verizon did not return a request for comment about plans for the site.
Such development “should accommodate a dedicated pedestrian path through the entire site from Lee Highway to Washington Boulevard that would formalize this vital connection,” the plan says.
If the Virginia Dept. of Transportation and WMATA move forward with plans to redevelop a commuter lot across the street, the connection could also get a new signalized crossing between the — potentially — redeveloped lots. Around this time last year, neither agency indicated progress toward redeveloping the site, citing barriers such as restrictive zoning.
At the time, a county planner told ARLnow that without higher building heights, there may not be much of an incentive to build.
“Those costs are real,” Natasha Alfonso said. “There has to be enough density to justify that kind of improvement on those sites. If the community wants walkable, transit-oriented development, those are things we have to consider.”
Another 82 properties are located within the Columbia Pike Special Revitalization District, including some along 12th Street S., a few blocks south of the Pike.
(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The Ballston and East Falls Church Metro stations are among those set to be impacted by a multi-week closure starting in June.
WMATA recently announced that it is planning to shut down a significant portion of the Orange Line during the summer for “system maintenance and modernization.”
Two Arlington stations — Ballston and East Falls Church — will be impacted by the infrastructure projects. The current plan is that only trains going east, towards Virginia Square and D.C., will be available at the Ballston station from June 3 to June 26, while the East Falls Church station will be shuttered during that time period.
The rest of the Orange Line, from West Falls Church through the end of the line at Vienna, will be closed for a longer period of time, from June 3 to July 17.
Elsewhere, there will be ten days of single-tracking from Stadium-Armory to Cheverly stations on the Orange Line and a complete 44-day shutdown from July 22 to Sept. 4 on the Green Line from Fort Totten to Greenbelt.
The reason for the shutdown, WMATA said, is to move forward on “five major projects to improve rail service reliability and modernize rail systems and facilities for customers.”
Those include completing a station roofing project on the Orange Line, replacing 30 miles of four-decade-old and failure-prone steel rails, installing fiber optic cables, modernizing information displays in the downtown stations, and elevator and escalator work at the Dupont station.
“Metro has used the lower ridership months in the summer to advance large maintenance and infrastructure projects with significant customer impacts,” the announcement notes. “By working closely with local jurisdictions, providing extensive free shuttle bus operations, and deploying comprehensive communications and outreach activities, Metro places significant effort to minimize the disruption to customers and the region.”
As for what the “free shuttle bus operations” could mean, county officials told ARLnow that hasn’t been figured out quite yet.
“WMATA will be scheduling coordination meetings with local jurisdictions to develop shuttle plans,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors told ARLnow via email. “As of yet, we haven’t heard from WMATA on their timeline. I don’t expect it to be dissimilar from other temporary station shutdowns.”
Locals have dealt with similar shutdowns. In September, Metro shuttered much of the Yellow Line for bridge and tunnel repairs as well as continuing work on the new Potomac Yard station. The Yellow Line shutdown is expected to continue at least through May, with free shuttles provided for impacted riders.
A major portion of the latest work will be focused on “replacing 40-year-old steel rail that has become significantly more susceptible to rail breaks than rail in any other part of the system.” Metro says that it has been tracking rail breaks and determined the stretch of track between Ballston and Vienna “to be a top priority” for replacement.
The Ballston Metro station averages about 3,500 daily entries on weekdays, which is more than the Clarendon, Courthouse, and Virginia Square stations but below Rosslyn, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the Pentagon. East Falls Church averages about 1,600 entries.
Just before Christmas, Santa Claus and his helpers are coming to town, on a fire engine instead of an eight reindeer-powered sleigh.
From Dec. 20-23, Saint Nick and his elves will visit Arlingtonians who live near the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department station, located near Fairfax Drive and Langston Blvd at 6950 Little Falls Road. He will be riding a decked-out reserve fire engine, dubbed the “Santamobile” and decorated by the department.
“During each night’s approximately three-hour run, Santa’s helpers will be handing out candy canes — and, to canine friends, dog biscuits, but only if they’ve been ‘good,'” says Santamobile coordinator Jenny Quinn. “Anyone who wishes to receive these treats are encouraged to greet Santa’s helpers at the curb. This provides the safest conditions for Santa’s helpers and ensures they have an opportunity to visit the largest number of our friends and neighbors.”
The ride through Arlington will follow a five-day run through the City of Falls Church from Dec. 15-19.
Quinn notes that routes occasionally change because of road conditions, including parking, traffic, construction and to ensure Santa’s safety. Exact routes can be found on the department’s Facebook page, where people can also follow along via Gylmpse to know where the truck is each evening, Quinn said.
If inclement weather is in the forecast, the Santamobile would be canceled for that evening “for the safety of Santa, his elves and all of residents who come out to see Santa,” she said.
The fire department will make “every effort” to update the Facebook page with any revisions to Santa’s schedule, Quinn said. She asks that people email [email protected] for more information and the latest routes rather than calling the station.
The tradition of escorting Santa Claus through the streets of Falls Church and Arlington dates back to the 1960s, she says. The bedecked fire engine would make appearances for on or two nights, after dark, at random — also known as “wildcatting.”
“As more people began asking for ‘Santa and the fire engine,’ the [FCVFD Board of Trustees] decided in 1981 to formalize the program and standardize neighborhood routes,” Quinn said. “We have been driving some of the Arlington neighborhoods closest to the station in Falls Church from the beginning.”
Today, the FCVFD volunteers don’t fight fires but they do provide ambulance support for the professional Arlington County firefighters who battle blazes in the little city. The volunteer-run station maintains a reserve fire engine, primarily to serve as the Santamobile.
Quinn says the reactions of kids and adults alike remind volunteers why they keep up the yearly tradition.
“I can’t tell you how many elderly people came out of their homes, stood at the door, and seemed like a five year old kid,” said Quinn, who dressed as an elf last year. “It brings a lot of joy to people… A lot of times the adults seem as excited as the kids.”
Arlington County has drafted preliminary designs to slow speeds and improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians along a busy artery in the East Falls Church neighborhood.
It proposes a number of streetscape changes to N. Sycamore Street between Langston Blvd and 19th Street N., near the East Falls Church Metro station and not far from the W&OD Trail. A fatal crash happened just over a year ago within the project’s boundaries at the intersection of N. Sycamore Street and Washington Blvd.
The plan calls for replacing right-turn-only lanes with protected bike lanes, removing slip lanes — which motorists use to turn while bypassing an intersection — and adding high visibility crosswalks and green skid marks for bicyclists.
It has taken more than a decade to get to this point. The 2011 East Falls Church Area Plan recommended shortening crossings, eliminating right-turn-only lanes and improving curb ramps on N. Sycamore Street. The, the 2019 Bicycle Element of the Master Transportation Plan recommended adding a bike lane along N. Sycamore Street between Williamsburg Blvd and the East Falls Church line.
County staff have studied the street twice, but progress was sporadic, due to two unsuccessful transportation grant applications and budget-tightening due to Covid. The Dept. of Environmental Services reprised the project last fall.
The department gathered feedback about problems with N. Sycamore Street where it intersects with Langston Blvd, 22nd Street N., Washington Blvd, the I-66 off-ramp and 19th Street N. Staff incorporated this feedback into preliminary plans, which can now be reviewed and commented on through Sunday (Nov. 20).
“Generally we heard from you all that the slip lanes in the corridor negatively impact pedestrian and bicyclist safety,” project manager Ariel Yang said in a presentation. “The other overarching thing we heard is a desire for safety and more comfortable crossings for people walking and biking N. Sycamore Street,” including better markings for bike lanes and better signalization for pedestrians.
Yang said participants reported frequent speeding, particularly around 22nd and 19th Street N., a tendency that the proposed changes are designed to address.
“Through design, we are trying to change behavior at the intersection where conflicts tend to happen more,” Yang said.
Other issues include unmarked and long crossings, narrow sidewalks and unclear markings in “conflict zones” between cars and cyclists, per the presentation.
The county proposes changes to five intersections.
(Updated 09/30/22) As Arlington County continues collecting feedback on the preliminary concept plan to turn Langston Blvd into a “Green Main Street” over several decades, a few disagreements have emerged.
Some say county staff need to coordinate more with existing plans for two neighborhoods along Route 29, as well as the Missing Middle Housing Study. Others say the building heights should be taller — to allow for more affordable housing — or are too tall already.
Late in August, Arlington County released a draft plan showing what Langston Blvd, formerly Lee Highway, could look like if the county encouraged denser housing and more walkable, greener streets, and planned for future infrastructure, transportation and facility needs. Since then, the county posted an online feedback form and launched in-person feedback opportunities called Design Studio sessions and virtual neighborhood meetings.
More than 200 people have attended the three virtual community meetings and Design Studio sessions, and more than 200 people have responded to the feedback forms, Rachel LaPiana, a staff member with the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, tells ARLnow.
“We encourage the community to provide feedback on a set of specific questions about what is proposed in the PCP and attend one of the upcoming community events,” she said.
There are still a number of opportunities to learn more about Plan Langston Blvd and provide feedback, which staff will collect through early November. This Saturday, the Langston Boulevard Alliance will host a walking tour, during which county planners will be able to answer questions. Another tour will be held on Sunday, Oct. 16.
The Langston Boulevard Alliance is also hosting three Design Studio sessions, held from 12-2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and 21 and Nov. 4 at its office (4500 Langston Blvd). A fourth virtual community meeting discussing housing, stormwater and transportation will be held Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 7-9 p.m.
It’s too soon to summarize the substance of the feedback that has been collected, LaPiana said.
“Once the engagement period ends, we will compile and analyze all of the community feedback,” she said.
Differing takes have since surfaced during a debate for County Board candidates held by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, as well as during this month’s County Board meeting.
“I’ve largely heard muted feedback, and that is not always the case with plans,” said County Board member Matt de Ferranti, who’s running for re-election this November, during the debate earlier this month. “I have heard a number of compliments. I actually think the plan is in decent shape.”
But, he said, the plan challenges the county’s ability to advance multiple planning fronts simultaneously, including the controversial Missing Middle Housing initiative, in which the county is considering whether to allow townhouses, duplexes and other low-density housing types in residential areas zoned exclusively for single-family homes.
“We have to, at least in my view, do them separately, because we can give our community full chance for engagement,” he said.
Independent candidate Audrey Clement questioned why upzoning is needed at all, with the bevy of new housing units proposed in Plan Langston Blvd and envisioned in the approved Pentagon City Planning Study, which, like Plan Langston Blvd, calls for significant, mostly residential redevelopment and more designated green spaces.
“We have something called a siloed process, where we have three plans, each ignorant of each other, that will increase housing on a massive schedule. That doesn’t make sense,” Clement said. “These plans should not be developed in a vacuum, but that appears to be what is happening right now.”
East Falls Church homeowner Wells Harrell told the County Board this month that Plan Langston Blvd ought to examine why development has lagged in East Falls Church and Cherrydale, despite the fact both underwent planning efforts in 2011 and 1994, respectively.
“Metro today remains surrounded by parking lots at the East Falls Church Metro station, and so far, there’s only been one — one — residential development since the plan was adopted in 2011,” Harrell said. “We need to take stock of why we haven’t achieved the goals set forth in the Cherrydale and East Falls Church area plans… in order to not just learn from the lessons we had there, but to guide us going forward and make sure we achieve the visions for Langston Blvd.”
County planners previously told ARLnow that they need the County Board’s go-ahead to revisit the East Falls Church plan. Further discussion about encouraging development in the area could come after the Board adopts a final Plan Langston Blvd document.
For now, plan authors say a final Plan Langston Blvd draft will recommend whether the existing redevelopment roadmaps for East Falls Church and Cherrydale need to be reviewed and refined.
Building heights are another source of disagreement. Plan authors write that building heights were lowered in response to some critical community feedback. That criticism also suggested the changes would diminish the stock of market-rate affordable apartments, lower property values, change neighborhood character and push out small businesses.
County staff say that lower heights may satisfy some residents, but it will slow down redevelopment.
“Staff believes the proposed concept plan will offer incentives for redevelopment, however, the levels are only moderately different from what is allowed for by-right development and site plan projects,” county planner Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed said in a video introducing the plan. “This means that we may see more by-right development, and improvements such as streetscape enhancements may take longer to be realized or happen in a fragmented way.”
And the changes dismayed pro-density advocates, including Harrell and independent County Board candidate Adam Theo.
“I am disappointed to see that the most recent draft has scaled a lot of that back,” Theo said.
De Ferranti, meanwhile, says there is one neighborhood where the heights may still be “a touch too high” — the area near Spout Run Parkway, where plan calls for buildings 12-15 stories tall.
“That decision is one we have to engage as a community on,” he said.
The annual summer Restaurant Week is a week away.
The regional event will be held between Monday, Aug. 15, and Sunday, Aug. 21 and is currently set to feature nearly a dozen Arlington restaurants.
During the event, the participating restaurants are expected to offer lunches for $25 and dinners for either $40 or $55.
The participating Arlington restaurants include:
- Big Buns Damn Good Burgers (Ballston and Shirlington) — serving burgers, burger bowls, cocktails, shakes and fries. Menu not yet released.
- Epic Smokehouse (Pentagon City) — will offer a three-course meal, charging $25 for lunch and $55 for dinner.
- La Cote d’Or Café (East Falls Church) — three-course menus of traditional French cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 or $55 for dinner.
- McCormick & Schmick’s (Crystal City) — a seafood restaurant that offers a $55 dinner option. Menu not yet released.
- Mussel Bar and Grill (Ballston) — a Belgian restaurant offering three-course menus at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
- Osteria da Nino (Shirlington) — three-course meals of Italian cuisine, priced at $40 for dinner.
- Ruthie’s All-Day (Arlington Heights) — the award-winning restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine will offer $40 and $55 dinner options. Menu not yet released.
- SER Restaurant (Ballston) — three-course meals of Spanish cuisine, priced at $25 for lunch and $40 for dinner.
The Freshman (Crystal City) – a café that serves bar food, sandwiches and pastas. Menu not yet released.
- The Melting Pot (Ballston) — three-course menus of fondues, priced at $40 for dinner and $5 extra per person for a chocolate fondue.
- Yume Sushi (East Falls Church) — five-course menu of Japanese cuisine for $55 per dinner.
Some of the restaurants listed above are pairing their meals with wine or cocktails. All the eateries, except The Melting Pot, offer delivery, takeout or outdoor spaces in addition to indoor dining.
Organized by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which also hosted the RAMMY awards, the event is sponsored by public and private groups, such as the D.C. Mayor’s Office, the National Landing Business Improvement District and Airbnb, according to its website.
Over 200 restaurants from the D.C. metropolitan area are participating this year, according to a RAMW tweet.
Arlington Rents Continue to Rise — “Apartment rents in Arlington keep on moving upward, maintaining their position as most expensive in the D.C. area and are now well above pre-pandemic rates, according to new data. With a median rental of $2,063 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,469 for two bedrooms, Arlington’s rental rate grew a whopping 2.8 percent from May to June, the sixth highest increase among the nation’s 100 largest urban areas.” [Sun Gazette]
Local Group Donating Thousands of Socks — “The Nursing Professional Development Council at VHC Health decided to have a ‘Sock Hop’ – not a dance party but a sock collection benefiting ‘Doorways,’ an Arlington non-profit helping people out of homelessness, domestic violence and sexual assault. The goal was set at 1,940 pairs – 1940 was the year the Sock Hop started but the generous nurses and staff at VHC Health tripled that number. It’s the biggest sock donation the group has ever received.” [WJLA]
Dems Resuming Breakfasts — “In another sign that life is getting back to normal(ish) – or at least adopting a ‘live with COVID’ practicality – the Arlington County Democratic Committee is resurrecting its monthly in-person breakfasts. The return engagement – the first since early 2020 – will be held on Saturday, July 9 at 8:30 a.m. at Busboys & Poets in Shirlington. Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) and others will discuss gun issues.” [Sun Gazette]
Cleanup Event Saturday Morning — “WalkArlington & BikeArlington partner to clean up a part of the W&OD Trail on Saturday, July 9. We will make our way down the W&OD, starting near the Barcroft Community Center, setting up our tent on the W&OD Trail at the intersection of a small road named ‘Barcroft Center’ and Four Mile Run Drive. We will pick up trash that accumulates alongside the trail. We will provide trash bags, gloves, trash pickers, drinks and some snacks. We will also have Bike and Walk giveaways.” [WalkArlington]
Metro Seeking Feedback on EFC Project — “Metro is seeking public input on the proposed bus loop expansion and pedestrian improvements at East Falls Church Station. The station currently has four bus bays that are operating at maximum capacity. In coordination with Metro, Arlington County seeks to expand the footprint of the existing bus loop, upgrade the existing bus shelters, and add three bus bays with shelters at the station.” [WMATA]
Flood Watch This Afternoon — “Multiple rounds of scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms are likely this afternoon and tonight. The most likely time period for thunderstorms producing heavy rain and potential flash flooding is this evening, but thunderstorms could develop as early as this afternoon, and may linger well into the night. Several inches of rain is possible in a short period of time, which would cause rapid rises of water.” [National Weather Service]
It’s Wednesday — Heavy rain starting in the afternoon. High of 86 and low of 78. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:38 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated on 5/18) A local family raised nearly $2,000 holding a yard sale this past weekend to help children impacted by the war.
Constantin, a Ukrainian-American who lives in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood and flew flags on 1-66 overpasses earlier this year, held the sale in his front yard Saturday morning in support of the D.C. area non-profit United Help Ukraine.
The funds will specifically go to the Hibuki Therapy Project, a program that pairs toy stuffed dogs and specialized therapists with children impacted by the ongoing war.
“It’s important to [bring] attention to the victims of the war,” Constantin told ARLnow via phone as he was rehanging Ukrainian and American flags over I-66. He asked his last name not be used for safety concerns.
He placed flyers for the yard sale near the Westover Library, the Lee-Harrison shopping center, and Nottingham Elementary. They attracted attention.
It was a “very strong turn out,” Constantin says, with neighbors donating both items and money to the effort. In all, he believes they made at least $1,600, though probably more since some folks donated money without buying items.
He held the yard sale not only to raise money to help those back in his homeland, but to show his own children how they can make a difference.
“I wanted to show my children how… they can take a specific thing, sell it, make money, and how it can go to a specific cause in Ukraine,” he says.
All of the money went to United Help Ukraine, which focuses on providing medical supplies and basic needs to Ukrainian refugees.
The local nonprofit has raised $25 to $30 million since Russia’s invasion in late February, President Maryna Baydyuk tells ARLnow. Through the Hibuki Therapy Project, 1,000 toy dogs have already been distributed to Ukrainian refugee children. The hope is to manufacture and distribute 6,000 in total, Baydyuk says, as well as train dozens of counselors who can help while the kids are at the refugee camps.
“Children are the most vulnerable group of refugees, so we want to focus on their psychological help,” Baydyuk says.
This yard sale won’t be the end of Constantin and his family’s efforts. He’s currently planning a block party fundraiser for early June that will give his East Falls Church neighbors. Even after close to three months of war, Constantin said it’s clear to him that Arlingtonians are still very much aware of and concerned about the ongoing human toll from the invasion.
“It’s very heart-warming as an American to see the number of Ukrainian flags going up in Arlington,” he said. “They are still everywhere.”