Press Club

Morning Notes

The sky is reflected off glass office windows in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]

Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]

Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]

Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]

Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]

Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y

Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]

Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington County staff present the details of County Manager Mark Schwartz’s $3.9 billion CIP for 2023-32 (via Arlington County)

From a new Columbia Pike library to a dedicated pickleball court, County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed 10-year $3.9 billion capital improvement plan would fund projects across Arlington.

The first 10-year plan for capital projects in four years would budget for infrastructure projects between 2023 and 2032. The CIP proposal, slated for adoption in July, is a 40% increase from the plan approved four years ago, Schwartz said in his presentation to the County Board Tuesday.

“This CIP proposal aims to address current and future capital needs in Arlington County as we emerge from the financial setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schwartz said in a statement. “We want to focus on key planned investments in addition to following through on commitments from prior plans to benefit county residents and businesses long-term.”

Stormwater projects would receive $331.3 million in funding, including $77 million for Spout Run, $14.7 million for Torreyson Run, $28.5 million for Crossman Run and $49.5 million for Lubber Run — all flood mitigation efforts. Streams and water quality funding is proposed at $52.1 million and maintenance at $50.2 million.

A slideshow outlining what Arlington’s investment in environmental goals looks like in the 2023-32 CIP (via Arlington County)

While Metro remains one of the largest investments in the CIP, at $356.4 million, the proposal also outlines $1.8 billion in non-Metro transportation funding. This includes $16 million for Vision Zero street safety improvements program, $64 million for bridge replacements and renovations, and $89 million for bike and walk programs.

Other highlights include:

The proposed CIP includes new park programs that focus on emerging needs and natural resiliency, a new fire station on the west end of Columbia Pike, and facilities consolidation to enable remote work for county staff.

Schwartz said the needs of the county have changed since the last 10-year CIP, as the county is in “a world shaped by the pandemic where we do our business differently.”

Michelle Cowan, deputy county manager overseeing the Department of Management and Finance, noted during the presentation that the finance department works entirely remotely now, potentially a harbinger of a money-saving reduction in the county’s office footprint.

“We have reduced our footprint which… allows us then to do some really strategic consolidations that you’ll hear about in other county buildings that could get us out of some aging assets,” Cowan said.

The CIP will continue to fund debt service obligations for the investment in housing at Barcroft Apartments, construction of Fire Station 8, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2023, and the design and planning process for the proposed Arlington boathouse.

Preliminary construction funding for the lower boathouse site is included in the later years of the CIP.

This CIP returns funding levels for the Arlington Neighborhoods Program, formerly the Neighborhood Conservation Program, which are projects identified by individual neighborhoods and include street improvements, streetlights, parks, beautification and sidewalks. The program had steep cuts in previous CIPs.

The 2023-32 CIP proposal would provide $85.2 million in funding to the program. That includes $4 million of funding for projects in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and would increase to $9 million in 2030 and 2031, Director of Management and Finance Maria Meredith said.

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Arlington is in the midst of a rash of vehicle-related crimes.

In just the past three weeks or so, 28 cars have been stolen and 35 airbags have been stolen, according to the Arlington County Police Department. That’s in addition to numerous break-ins and other auto crimes during that same time period.

Earlier this month, we reported on a series of 20 airbag thefts near Gunston Middle School, all involving Hondas. Thieves — unclear whether it’s the same thief or thieves — struck again early Wednesday.

Nearly a dozen Honda vehicles had airbags stolen from the 2000 blocks of Columbia Pike and S. Eads Street, in the Crystal City area. A tipster tells us the thefts on the Pike happened at the Dorchester Towers apartment parking lot.

“I just went around and every single Honda Civic has their windows broken and airbags stolen,” the tipster said.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180016, 2000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 1:28 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering in progress. Upon arrival, officers located six vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180045, 2000 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a late larceny from auto. Upon arrival, officers located five vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. This investigation is ongoing.

“Since April 27, there have been 35 individual airbags reported stolen,” police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

The department, meanwhile, revealed that at least 28 vehicles have been stolen in May. Most had keys or key fobs inside when they were taken.

“Police Warn Against Leaving Keys Inside Vehicles,” was the headline of the press release issued by the department this morning.

More from ACPD, below.

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The Columbia Pike Partnership and Black Heritage Museum of Arlington are moving down the Pike due to the imminent redevelopment of Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, both announced yesterday (May 18).

The two local organizations are set to move by the end of the month into the first floor of the Ethiopian Community Development Council building at 3045 Columbia Pike, only a five minute walk from its current home at 2611 Columbia Pike. Among their new neighbors is a Subway sandwich shop.

They are moving because the shopping center is set for demolition and redevelopment. In March, the Arlington County Board officially greenlit turning the aging retail strip into “The Elliot.” The new building will feature 247 market-rate apartments above a grocery store (maybe an Amazon Fresh), a renovated CVS, and a relocated Burritos Bros.

What it won’t include is a number of the current tenants, including the partnership and the museum.

“When the news came that we would need to move, our Board of Directors decided it was important for the organization to have a presence on the Pike — people need to find us, and we need to stay in touch with the community as well,” CPP’s Amy McWilliams tells ARLnow. “After a long hunt, we found the space at 3045B Columbia Pike, and realized it could house the Columbia Pike Partnership as well as the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, continuing our collective partnership.”

Last year, the Black Heritage Museum moved into the offices of the partnership, then called the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. Sharing the space was supposed to be temporary as the museum looked for a permanent home.

That’s still the plan for this new space, says the museum’s president Scott Taylor, as the museum continues to search for a new location — possibly in its old home.

“We have just recently signed a two year contract with our new landlord. We will continue to strive for a permanent location,” says Taylor. “There is even some talk about us going back to 3108 Columbia Pike as the county has acquired that property and may allow us some room there when they complete the new project there.”

CPP and the museum hope to have the space open to the public by June 18.

With all businesses needing to vacate the shopping center by May 31, several others have closed or announced their next moves in recent months.

H&R Block closed earlier this year while CVS will move into a trailer during construction and, then, back into the new building when completed. Atilla’s, a Turkish restaurant and grocer that’s been there since the 1970s, is closing next weekend and is in search of a new location.

Legend Kicks, which re-opened in its current location in 2018, is also set to close and possible move, but it’s unclear where.

ARLnow reached out to the business and its owner, who also owns the still-yet-to-open Eska just down Columbia Pike in the former location of the Purple Lounge, but has not heard back as of publication time.

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An Arlington man has been charged with DUI after police say he struck 7-8 parked cars near Rosslyn on a rainy weekday afternoon earlier this month.

The incident happened on Friday, May 6, in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood. A police report says the 32-year-old man got into a 2003 Honda Pilot SUV, which was parked outside his apartment building on the 1200 block of N. Quinn Street, around 4:45 p.m. What happened next, as detailed by one of the victims, sounds reminiscent of a demolition derby.

The man “sideswiped a car in his own lot, hit a no-parking sign, then a utility pole, then hopped over a sidewalk as well as a row of bushes into a different parking lot where he slammed into another car so hard that it smashed into another,” the victim told ARLnow. “He then proceeded to go on to N. Rolfe Street from said parking lot and hit three more cars before finally coming to a stop.”

The account largely matches that of a police spokeswoman and a crash report shared with ARLnow. The crash report lists a total of seven seven vehicles, all but one of which were disabled by the force of the collisions.

“At approximately 4:46 p.m. on May 6, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle crash with unknown conditions,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Upon arrival, officers located the suspect in the driver’s seat of the striking vehicle. The suspect was treated on scene by medics and declined transport to the hospital.”

“The investigation determined the driver allegedly struck approximately eight parked, unoccupied vehicles, a utility pole and garbage cans,” Savage continued. “Following the administration of field sobriety tests [the suspect] was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence and Refusal of Breath Test.”

The drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor, as it’s the suspect’s first DUI charge, according to court records. The refusal of a breath test is a civil violation.

The suspect was released on his own recognizance after the arrest, according to court records. He is next due in court in August.

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An privately-owned overflowing trash can in Pentagon City. (photo courtesy of Rebecca/@rdc20132)

Overflowing trash cans are becoming a more common sight in Pentagon City and Crystal City, but the county is pledging to clean up the mess.

In recent days, several local residents posted photos on social media of neighborhood trash cans and recycling bins filled beyond the brim with soda cans, food wrappers, pizza boxes, coffee cups, and doggie bags. The problem, as noted, seemed to happen more on weekends.

https://twitter.com/rdc20132/status/1525557363557777410

County officials tell ARLnow that increased seasonal tourism and more weekend events are to blame, as both in the region are ramping back up after 2+ years of pandemic-related drop-offs.

“We are seeing a definite increase in use of public trash cans in parts of Arlington like Pentagon City, frequented by a lot of folks from out-of-town,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) spokesperson Peter Golkin tells ARLnow. “After the first two years of the pandemic, there’s a noticeable rise in tourism and this is the traditional high point for any year thanks to school trips. When a group pulls up, it’s natural to want to get rid of junk like food wrappers and soda cans, especially on big buses that drivers have to keep clean.”

Golkin says that there are more workers back in offices as well, grabbing lunch and coffee while disposing of the remains in public trash cans. Plus, the increasing number of events both in Arlington and in D.C. has resulted in more “water bottles and wrappers naturally [making] their way beyond the event site.”

There’s also the notion of not wanting to walk the extra block to find a less-filled trash can.

“The messy problem comes when a trash or recycling can is full and the urge is to just keep piling rather than look for something with room maybe a block or two down the street,” he says.

To help solve the issue, Golkin says that DES is shifting schedules to include specific weekend checks at trouble trash spots in addition to the regular weekday rounds. However, “tight staffing” does not make it “easy to re-allocate limited resources like staff time.”

Despite requests from some residents, there’s no current plan to add more trash and recycling receptacles to those areas most impacted.

“The Solid Waste Bureau will see if the increased servicing takes care of the issue or if additional steps are necessary,” Golkin notes.

Not all of the trash cans in those neighborhoods are serviced by the county, however.

DES monitors and manages four pairs of trash and recycling receptacles on each side of S. Hayes Street near the Pentagon City mall. But there are also a number of trash cans in the area that belong to privately-owned buildings and are required to be serviced by those property owners.

Additionally, another county department — the Department of Parks and Recreation — handles the waste around Virginia Highlands Park, which is up a few blocks from the mall on S. Hayes Street.

As County Board chair Katie Cristol noted on Twitter, residents can request service or report problems with trash or any other street issue 24/7 through the county’s “Report A Problem” portal. More broadly, the county is currently updating its nearly-two-decade-old solid waste management plan and is asking for public input.

Golkin is optimistic that shifting more service to the weekends will help alleviate the trash problem in Pentagon City and Crystal City. But he does have a simple request.

“If a receptacle is already full, try to hold on [to trash] until there’s a nearby can with room.”

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Morning Notes

A pedestrian crosses Wilson Blvd. near a protected bike lane with artificial sunflowers (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fish Kill in Four Mile Run Last Week — “Anyone visiting lower Four Mile Run in the last several days should have noticed many dead fish, large and small, along the streambank and floating out in the water, the result of a pollution incident that occurred some time Thursday, May 12.” [Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation]

Rumor: Board Members May Not Run Again — “My spies in the Arlington Democratic infrastructure say odds favor neither County Board member up for election in 2023 actually running for a third term. And if Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey do skedaddle (and just as they’d start earning some bigger bucks …), the field would seem to be wide open.” [Sun Gazette]

More Big Changes at DCA — “Reagan National Airport is about to go through a massive rebranding. Because of recent expansions, the airport will be split into Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 1 will be the original airport building housing the A gates. Terminal 2 will house the newly named B, C, D and E gates. More than 1,000 signs in and around the airport will be changed starting June 4.” [NBC 4]

Arlington Apartment Buildings Bought — “Cortland, one of the largest apartment owners in the U.S., is making a huge entrance to Greater Washington, acquiring four Arlington multifamily properties in an expected $1B investment. The Atlanta-based investment firm acquired a newly developed 23-story, 331-unit apartment building in Rosslyn and a 534-unit building in Pentagon City, Cortland announced Wednesday.” [Bisnow, Washington Business Journal]

County Honors Trees, Volunteers — “Mother Nature is smiling! Arlington County recognized five individuals who volunteer at Bon Air Park as recipients of the 2021 Bill Thomas Park Volunteer Award and highlighted its 2022 Notable Trees — both which honor the people and natural resources that preserve Arlington’s green spaces — during the Arlington County Board’s recessed meeting on May 17.” [Arlington County]

Wawa Coming to Falls Church — “Philadelphia-area convenience store chain Wawa is under contract to ground-lease the shuttered Stratford Motor Lodge site in the city of Falls Church, which it will replace with a roughly 6,000-square-foot store — but no gas pumps… The motor lodge closed last fall, the Falls Church News Press reported.” [Washington Business Journal]

Four Mile Run Dredging Approaching — “Alexandria and Arlington will start clearing debris and dredging Four Mile Run in September, and the project will close sections of [an Alexandria] park from the public for four to six months. The City and County maintain a shared flood-control channel in the lower portion of the nine-mile-long stream, and have partnered to dredge Four Mile Run since 1974.” [ALXnow]

It’s Thursday — Rain early in the morning, then clearing later in the day. High of 82 and low of 61. Sunrise at 5:54 am and sunset at 8:19 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Demolition of the former Jaleo restaurant building in Crystal City began this week, as the site plan review process for a redevelopment on the block kicked off earlier this month.

The proposal by JBG Smith is making its way through the county approval process to turn the 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. buildings into two apartment towers with ground floor retail and an underground parking garage.

The two 30-story apartment towers replacing the former restaurant space and the aging 11-story “Crystal Plaza 5” office building would include:

  • A “West Tower” at 223 23rd Street S. that would be 309 feet tall and have 613 dwelling units, 4,379 square feet of retail and 184 parking spaces
  • An “East Tower” at 2250 Crystal Drive that would be 304 feet tall, and have 827 dwelling units, 13,059 square feet of retail and 249 total parking spaces

An underground garage structure would serve both buildings, averaging 0.3 spaces per unit, and connect to the existing parking structure on the block, county planner Michael Cullen said in a presentation earlier this month.

JBG Smith also proposes moving the plaza and pedestrian access to a collection of underground shops and corridors to the northwest corner of the east tower.

Once approved and constructed, the buildings would make the block, called “Block M” in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan, 80% residential. Most of the buildings on Block M are owned by JBG Smith.

There was one adjustment in JBG’s most recent presentation to the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC).

Along the east-west connection, JBG Smith added a park option based on community feedback at the Long Range Planning Committee, said Madhvi Shukla with JBG Smith. In both options, the whole east-west connection, which links Crystal Drive and another path to 23rd Street S., would be publicly accessible.

“The section that isn’t chosen for the park would have a public access easement to ensure whichever park space is chosen has public access to both Crystal Drive and to the underground entry,” she said.

A graphic of the east-west connection for the 2250 Crystal Drive project shows a new location option for a park on the right (via JBG Smith)

Three park spaces are incorporated in the plan, which ultimately will total 26,000 square feet, but one of the spaces will be phased into its final size over time, Shukla said.

The 13,000-square-foot park envisioned in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan would not be fully finished unless JBG Smith redevelops the Crystal Plaza 6 apartments at 2221 S. Clark Street. In the interim, the park will total about 8,000 square feet on the site’s southwest corner, and an alley between the two towers will be a dead end.

The north-south connection between 23rd Street and the east-west connection would be designed to prioritize pedestrians, with 8 and 9-foot sidewalks, elevated planters for protection and string lights to signal it’s a pedestrian-first zone, Shukla said.

On 23rd Street, there will be protected bike lanes going in both directions, Shukla said, as well as a protected bike lane on Crystal Drive. While the 23rd Street realignment will narrow the roadway, it will have the same number of lanes without a median.

A rendering shows what 23rd Street S. will look like with protected bike lanes and without a median (via JBG Smith)

On June 13 and July 21, there will be virtual SPRC meetings to discuss the project. Planning Commission meetings and a County Board vote are expected this fall.

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S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington (via Google Maps)

A rehabilitation project and a potential lane reconfiguration are both in the works for the S. Abingdon Street bridge in Fairlington.

The bridge, which carries local vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood over I-395, was built in 1970 and last rehabilitated in 1994. It’s due for more work to improve safety and extend the bridge’s life, VDOT says.

A VDOT presentation noted that inspectors found crumbling concrete below the bridge span.

Abingdon Street bridge inspection photo (via VDOT)

The state transportation department is conducting a virtual public engagement process about the upcoming $10.5 million rehab project, for which it anticipates starting construction in the summer of 2023. At least one lane of vehicle and bike traffic will be maintained in each direction during construction, VDOT says.

More from VDOT’s website, below.

The project includes:

  • Resurfacing the concrete bridge deck and closing deck joints
  • Repairing concrete piers and abutments
  • Adding protective concrete barriers adjacent to piers
  • Extending and adding concrete in-fill walls between piers
  • Replacing bearings and reconstructing bearing seats

The existing sidewalks on both sides of the bridge will remain and the bridge bicycle lanes will be restriped as part of the project.

The bridge averages 8,300 vehicles a day based on 2019 data.

The project is financed with federal and state funding.

Get Involved

In lieu of an in-person meeting, VDOT invites residents and travelers to learn more, watch the virtual presentation and give feedback in the following ways through Wednesday, June 1:

  • Watch the virtual presentation (also available in Chinese and Spanish) at virginiadot.org/Abingdon395.
  • Provide comments via the online survey or by email to [email protected].
  • Mail comments to Mr. Sharif Ramsis, P.E., Virginia Department of Transportation, 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030.

In addition to VDOT’s construction project, Arlington County is gearing up for a “Complete Streets” repaving and re-striping project on the bridge — from Fire Station 7 to 34th Street S. — this summer.

The project may involve removing the sparsely-used street parking on either side of the bridge, in favor of more robust and protected bike and pedestrian facilities, based on public comments and past history with the program.

Several comments note concerns about vehicles speeding on the bridge and the presence of students going to and from school.

An exact plan for the county’s Complete Streets project has yet to be published.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Reuben Tucker (@blurredriff) plays guitar in Long Bridge Park at sunset (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Decal Fee Officially Dead — “Arlington County Board members on May 14 followed through on a promise made last month and eliminated the ‘decal fee’ that has been imposed for decades as part of residents’ car-tax bills. And while the action will save residents a collective $6 million this year, it’s something of a rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul situation, as higher assessments on used vehicles in these inflationary times likely will eat up all the savings for some vehicle owners.” [Sun Gazette]

Wild Rosslyn Press Conference in the Works — “WHAT: Jack Burkman to give press conference from wheelchair, after losing more than 65 ibs, and all his hair. WHEN: Monday May 23, 2022 High Noon. WHERE… N Colonial Terrace, Arlington VA 22209.” [Twitter]

Free Fitness Class Tonight — “Join HUSTLE at Long Bridge Park in National Landing for a weekly sweaty and fun outdoor HIIT class. Arlington, VA has been named one of the fittest cities in the country, so get your heart pumping at an outdoor HIIT class with local fitness instructors.” [Twitter, National Landing BID]

Historical Marker for Eden Center — “The Virginia Historical Commission (VHC) has recognized Vietnamese Immigrants in Northern Virginia as a significant part of Virginia history by awarding it an Official Virginia Historical Marker… A dedication ceremony to commemorate the event will be held on May 24, 2022 at Eden Center at 3:30PM.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Wednesday — Sunny during the day, with rain possible at night. High of 74 and low of 54. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:18 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(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.

https://twitter.com/iFirebrand/status/1525976966620450821

“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.”

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