The last few weeks have seen lots of holiday kindness from local Arlington schools and community groups for A-SPAN’s clients. We want to thank all of them again here and share with everyone some of the great things that these students and neighbors have done.
The Rosslyn BID kicked off the season by collecting 119 large bags of clothing from Rosslyn businesses during the annual Light Up Rosslyn celebration the first week of December. The Interact Service Club of Wakefield High School spent that week gathering wreaths, streamers and lights to decorate the shelter for the holidays on December 8th. Their coordinator, Lisa Labella, led about 20 students to the shelter on Saturday morning after the clients had left for the day and had it beautiful in time for check-in later that day.
Ashlawn Elementary held their annual cereal drive the week of December 10th to 14th. Held every year for nearly a decade, this year they surpassed their record and collected 577 boxes of cereal piled high into a Mountain that would be split evenly between Arlington Food Assistance Center and A-SPAN.
Ashlawn faculty and staff also created 16 centerpieces for the Client Holiday Party that was held on December 20th. The Shooshan Company provided meals and servers for the 4th year in a row for a large meal that served 170 clients at St. Charles Borromeo. The parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace provided 160 wrapped shoeboxes filled with toiletries & health supplies as well as hand-knitted scarves and hats.
Hoffman-Boston Elementary began partnering with A-SPAN this year through the Fannie Mae “Help the Homeless” Walkathon and wanted to get even more involved. In addition to running a sock drive this winter, the YES club decorated paper bags that will be used to distribute meals in the nightly Homeless Bagged Meal Program. Their students also made a hundred happy reindeer candy canes a special treat.
On the morning of the 21st, Year Up & St. Mary’s Episcopal Church both stopped by A-SPAN’s office in Shirlington with 50-60 coats to hand out over the next month to those most in need. Later that afternoon, A-SPAN staff stopped by Randolph Elementary for their Holiday Sing-A-Long and to announce their results this year in raising money for the Help the Homeless Walkathon. Their staff found local sponsors through Mike Webb Realty and Arlington Community Federal Credit Union to match all the coins the students raised in their Spare Change Drive. The grant total came out to more than $1200!
From there, we went next to Nottingham Elementary School where their 4th grade had also made gift boxes for the shelter. Each box contained toiletries, grooming products, a pair of socks, and a note wishing everyone happy holidays and a great start to the new year. Bringing the extras back to the office after visiting the shelter, we found hundreds of pairs of socks and new underwear that Virginia Hospital Center had been collecting all month long.
Several more of our neighbors are also gathering furniture and household items right now for two A-SPAN clients that will be moving in to their own apartments on December 26th and 27th!
We're all grateful for these and every project that our community has done lately. We're doubly grateful that these gifts are only part of year-long efforts that these and other groups do to show that they care for all of our neighbors.