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(Updated at 8:35 a.m.) The line wrapped around the church, dozens of people deep. One woman waited 45 minutes and still hadn’t reached the front of the building while a volunteer lapped the church, passing out water to those waiting in the sticky heat.

On Wednesday morning in the Green Valley neighborhood, Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (2700 19th Street S.) again teamed up with D.C.-based celebrity chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen to serve meals to those in need. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the church has seen the number of families it helps grow.

In the past, families would gather inside Father Ray Hall for treats and coffee. There were around 200 families that would participate, and the gatherings created a close community feel. Since then the number of families has increased to an average of 630, and the indoor gatherings have moved outside in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

On Wednesday, World Central Kitchen served more than 3,580 meals to those in need at the church.

This is the second time the nonprofit and the church has worked together. The first time was on May 22 when 3,200 meals were served.

“I heard that it was very good. They really enjoyed having something… it’s like having a restaurant come to them,” said Sally Diaz-Wells, the church’s social justice and outreach minister.

The church normally holds weekly food drives on Wednesdays, gathering groceries and commonly needed food items such as bread, meat, and cheese, as well as shelf-stable items like pasta, beans and mac and cheese for the kids.

“We try to have low-sugar foods and high-protein foods in each of our bags,” said Diaz-Wells.

To provide a safe experience on Wednesday, the church placed 6-foot markers on the sidewalk in front of the building to guide people with social distancing. Organizers also ensured contactless pickup by placing the bags on chairs 6 feet away from both the entrance to the building and the rest of the line, and calling recipients forward when it was their turn. They also offered masks and required 100 percent mask-wearing.

Those interested in donating food to the church find a list of items on its website. Financial donations are also accepted.

Diaz-Wells emphasized the importance of the staff’s health to keep the food drives running each week.

“We’ve been blessed. We’ve been healthy and safe since the beginning,” she said.

Photo by Jay Westcott

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This weekend, Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands is holding a “Stuff the Truck” donation event to collect food for the Chirilagua neighborhood in Alexandria.

The community — also known as Arlandria — has faced disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients, as have Latino and Hispanic communities in Arlington and throughout the region.

Local nonprofits have worked to get food and other emergency supplies to hard-hit Chirilagua.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Chirilagua neighborhood are experiencing hardship from job loss, sickness, and food insecurity,” Calvary UMC said in a media advisory. “Recent data revealed that over 40% of Chirilagua residents are unemployed and, in mid-May, over 55% of COVID tests taken by community members living in Chirilagua were positive.”

This Saturday, June 6, Calvalry UMC is hosting a donation event at the church (2315 S. Grant Street) from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to fill a 20-foot truck with items most needed by Chirilagua residents and families.

“To participate, donors can come to Calvary UMC and bring donated food and supplies to place in the truck,” the church said. “Items needed most are shelf-stable foods such as rice, beans, canned food and cornflour.”

The event is the latest in a series of fundraisers and food drives for the church to support the Chirilagua community. So far, the church says it has raised $24,000 of its $25,000 goal. The church plans to make an additional $15,000 pledge to bring the total to at least $40,000, the church said.

“Donors wishing to make a financial contribution to MISSION:COVID can donate at the event or through the Calmeth.org website,” the church said, “or text GIVE to 703-936-2684 and select MISSION:COVID from the menu.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Blind Triplets Have Coronavirus — “The blind Virginia triplets who defied the odds and made history when they became Eagle Scouts in 2017 are facing another challenge. All three young men have now been diagnosed with COVID-19 and their father is praying they continue to beat the odds.” [WUSA 9]

Wakefield Seniors to Get Yard Signs, Too — “Through donations from teachers, alumni, and community members, every senior gets a yard sign!” [Twitter]

New Food Drop-off Boxes in Ballston — “FLARE, an electric shuttle service, has partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to collect and deliver food donations for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) every Friday beginning on April 24.” [Press Release]

CPRO Hosting Biz Listening Session This AM — “Our speakers will discuss the challenges local small businesses are facing as well as the opportunities that have arisen and the resources available to assist our business community, including financial assistance.” [Zoom]

Civ Fed Backs Crystal City Growth Plan — “Delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation on April 21 agreed to support efforts by three civic associations adjacent to Amazon’s new HQ2 in providing a road map for handling growth in the corridor. The resolution, which garnered support from more than 80 percent of voting delegates during an online meeting, puts the Civic Federation behind the ‘Livability 22202’ action plan.” [InsideNova]

Beyer Wants Help for State, Local Gov’ts — “Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), during House Floor debate on the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, urged his colleagues to send urgently-needed federal aid to state and local governments on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release, Twitter]

Clarendon Cafe Delivers Coffee to First Responders — “A Turkish small business owner is giving free coffee to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus in the US state of Virginia. East West Coffee Wine, which has been opened in Arlington County since 2017, says it is now time to give back to those ‘who are tirelessly working to protect us.'” [Anadolu Agency]

Video: Talking Small Biz with Scott Parker — “ARLnow talked with Scott Parker — of Don Tito, BASH Boxing, Bearded Goat Barber and other local businesses — about the state of local business in Arlington during the coronavirus pandemic.” [Facebook]

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Morning Notes

County Forms Hunger Task Force — “In anticipation of increasing need, County Manager Mark Schwartz and APS Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson have created the Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington (CHFA) and tasked it to help coordinate efforts to make sure that every Arlington resident who needs food has it during the pandemic.” [Arlington County]

ACPD, Bayou Bakery Distribute Free Meals — “Yesterday, ACPD assisted with the distribution of over 100 meals and school supplies to families in our community. This successful event was a collaborative effort by Real Food For Kids, Bayou Bakery, Abingdon Elementary PTA and private donations.” [Facebook]

Del. Lopez Celebrates Va. Dream Act Signing — “After years of work in the legislature — and decades of activism from educators, students, and advocates across the Commonwealth — the Virginia Dream Act has finally been signed into law, expanding in-state tuition to undocumented students for the first time.” [Press Release]

Wardian Went to Work After 63 Hour Race — “Q: How much did you sleep when you were done with the race? A: I didn’t sleep at all. I came right back from the race and I had a work deadline Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. I work from home, so I came right to my desk. I started working until I passed out on my keyboard. I told everyone to please double check all my work.” [New York Times]

County Again Encouraging Clapping Tonight — “Join us in saluting healthcare workers on Monday night! At 8 p.m., clap in front yards, balconies, windows and cars to show gratitude.” [Facebook]

Rosslyn Couple’s Very Mini Golf Course — “When your fiancée sets up a 9-hole mini @TheMasters for your quarantine birthday, you want @Buck to call play-by-play on the disappointing 9th hole.” [Twitter]

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Scouting for Food logoEven though trick-or-treating is over, you may still see some kids in costumes uniforms come to your door tomorrow, seeking food with bags in hand.

Saturday is the Boy Scouts’ annual “Scouting for Food” drive in the D.C. area, and Boy Scouts will be tying plastic bags to the doors of Arlington houses tomorrow. The following Saturday, Nov. 9, they will return to collect the bag, which they hope the residents will fill with nonperishable food items.

Last year, the drive collected 825,000 pounds of food, according to the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Once the bags are collected, the food collected in Arlington will be distributed by the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Boy Scouts will also be at Safeway grocery stores Nov. 9 encouraging shoppers to buy additional items to be donated to AFAC.

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AFAC celebrates 25th anniversaryNext week, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 9, Arlington Public Library will donate 10 cents of every dollar paid in fines to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

This is the first year of the donation program, according to library spokesman Peter Golkin. The money will be coming from the Friends of the Public Library group, not from the fines themselves, which go back into the county budget.

The library brings in thousands of dollars in fines each week, Golkin said, but if residents don’t have a library book or movie overdue, they can still bring food donations to the library for AFAC. These are the items AFAC says it needs most at the moment:

  • Cooking oil in plastic bottles
  • Small bags of flour
  • Canned tuna in water
  • Low sugar cereals
  • Low sodium soups
  • Whole wheat pasta

Golkin noted the donation week will start a bit late Saturday. Arlington Central Library will be closed until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday due to a planned power outage as a result of construction on a nearby building. The library will stay open two hours later than normal — until 7:00 p.m. — Saturday evening to compensate. Other libraries will open at normal times, and donations will be collected at all locations.

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Arlington Food Assistance Center in ShirlingtonThe Arlington Food Assistance Center is low on cereal, pasta, peanut butter and other food items.

AFAC volunteer coordinator Laura Jackson said the end of the summer is typically when its dry food stores are lowest because the center doesn’t conduct as many food drives while people are on vacation.

“It happens most summers,” she said. “We get a lot of produce donations from farmer’s markets during the summer, but a tomato is not the same thing as cereal.”

Other items AFAC is looking for donations are low-sodium soup, canned tuna in water, small bags of flour and cooking oils in plastic bottles.

The center is participating in the nationwide Hunger Action Month, with several events planned around Arlington to collect food and donations. The biggest event, Jackson said, is the Fill the Bus campaign the weekend of Sept. 27-29 at the Giant supermarket at 3115 Lee Highway. AFAC hopes to collect 20,000 pounds of food to fill an ART bus.

There are numerous food drives and even a screening of a movie among the other events planned for Hunger Action Month. More information on donating money or food to AFAC can be found on the organization’s web site.

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Morning Notes

Christmas tree on top of Lee Heights Shops

ACFD Food Drive Ends Friday — The Arlington County Fire Department’s food drive, which began on December 1, will end this Friday, December 21. So far, ACFD has collected more than 1,200 pounds of food for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Non-perishable food can be donated at all Arlington and Falls Church fire departments, and at the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

County Hopes Residents Remove Snow to Avoid Fines — Arlington officials are reminding residents that it could be another year that snow piles up and needs to be removed from sidewalks. The county hopes residents follow the snow removal ordinance that was put in place in 2010. Failure to remove snow is a civil infraction that holds fines of $50-100, and moving snow from private property into public areas (like streets) is a Class 4 misdemeanor. So far, no tickets have been issued under the ordinance. [Sun Gazette]

Sandy Hook School Fundraiser — Whitlow’s (2854 Wilson Blvd) is hosting a fundraiser tonight (December 19) to raise money for families affected by Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The effort was spearheaded by alumni from Virginia Tech who were students during that school’s deadly shooting in 2007. All proceeds from the event will go to the Sandy Hook School Support fund. There will also be a table set up for patrons to make cards to be sent to the community in Connecticut. [Hokies for Sandy Hook]

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ACFD Holding Food Drive for AFAC

The Arlington County Fire Department will be holding a holiday food drive for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) starting on Saturday.

The food drive will run from Saturday, Dec. 1 to Friday, Dec. 21. Firefighters will collect non-perishable food donations at fire stations in Arlington and Falls Church, and at the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse. The donations will then be sent to AFAC, which is based in the Shirlington area.

AFAC is most in need of items like cereal, flour, cooking oil, pasta or canned tuna, according to a press release. The organization serves more than 4,000 adults and children on an average week.

“It’s a myth that no one in Arlington goes hungry,” Arlington Fire Chief James Schwartz said in a statement. “Every week, thousands of families and children need our help, just to survive. The men and women of ACFD want to do what they can to help our community, especially during this special time of year.”

The fire department will not be participating in the annual “Toys for Tots” drive this year.

In addition to the ACFD food drive, Arlington County will be running its annual Secret Santa program, which collects gift cards to be donated to needy families, seniors and Foster children.

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Boy Scouts will be hitting the streets on Saturday (November 10) for their annual “Scouting for Food” drive.

The scouts will stop at homes in a number of neighborhoods to collect food donations to benefit Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). They will directly visit residents who received bags and fliers last week explaining the drive. Out of courtesy for residents, scouts don’t knock on doors; instead residents are asked to leave food donations in plain sight near their front doors, by 9:00 a.m. All donations are expected to be collected by noon.

Residents who didn’t receive a bag on their door will not be visited by the scouts. These residents can still participate, however, by taking food donations to the Cherrydale or Harrison Street Safeway stores.

Suggested foods for donation include pasta, peanut butter, breakfast food, tuna, soup, fruit and beans. AFAC and the scouts both ask that items in glass jars are not donated.

The goal is to exceed last year’s total of 60,000 pounds of donated food.

Right now, AFAC serves about 1,400 people each week, but that may increase as temperatures grow colder.

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Morning Notes

Shirlington, Pentagon Row to Get Electric Car Chargers — Federal Realty Investment Trust is installing electric vehicle charging stations at five of its D.C. area shopping centers, including The Village at Shirlington and Pentagon Row. [Washington Business Journal]

Daggers Found in Book at DCA — Two throwing daggers were found in a hollowed-out book in a passenger’s carry-on baggage at Reagan National Airport on Monday. The knives and the book were confiscated by authorities. [NBC Washington]

ART Canned Food Drive Ends — ART bus passengers donated a total of 376 canned food items from Nov. 14 to Dec. 16, during the transit service’s food drive. The canned items are being donated to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. [CommuterPage Blog]

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