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NORTHERN VIRGINIA — The holiday season wraps up after New Year’s Day, but the season of giving doesn’t need to end for local nonprofits. Organizations serving Northern Virginia need help year-round to meet their goals.
We asked nonprofits to share with Patch their “wish lists” for 2023. In other words, what do they hope to achieve in the new year, and how can the community help?
If you’re looking for a new charitable cause to help or simply want to learn about organizations serving Northern Virginia, we’ve provided more information below. From educational programs to health care and food assistance, these organizations work every day to help the people or pets of Northern Virginia.
Find out what’s happening in Old Town Alexandriawith free, real-time updates from Patch.
If you are a nonprofit leader and would like to be spotlighted in Patch, email me at [email protected], and I can direct you to the editor covering your Patch town. You can also fill out our form to share your nonprofit’s “wish list.”
Shepherd’s Center of Annandale Springfield
Find out what’s happening in Old Town Alexandriawith free, real-time updates from Patch.
Shepherd’s Center of Annandale Springfield is one of 60 Shepherd’s Centers in the U.S., serving seniors to help them age in place. The nonprofit coordinates volunteer drivers who give seniors rides to medical and dental offices, grocery stores, banks, food banks and other locations, explains board chair Barbara Gatorian. Seniors also have socialization and education opportunities through monthly luncheons with speakers or entertainment.
In 2023, the organization’s goal is to hire an office manager and raise $16,000 in donations or grants.
Learn more about volunteering and donating at shepherdscenter-annandale.org.
Humane Society of Loudoun County
Humane Society of Loudoun County is a volunteer organization that cares for animals in need and finds them forever homes. It follows a no-kill philosophy and places animals in foster homes while they await adoption.
In 2023, the organization hopes to expand its network of fosters so it can serve more animals in need. Residents can apply to foster at humaneloudoun.org/programs/foster. For those who cannot foster, help can still be provided through donations. Donations are helping to cover increasing veterinary costs, the organization’s largest programmatic expense.
“We would love to expand our foster network so we can provide more soft landings for animals in need. Community members can help by applying to foster at https://humaneloudoun.org/prog… For those who can’t foster, we would ask that they donate to help cover the escalating vet costs — which is our biggest programmatic expense.”
To learn more about volunteering or other ways to help, visit humaneloudoun.org.
Blessings in a Backpack – Mount Vernon Community School
Blessings in a Backpack helps students facing food insecurity with meals outside school. The organization provides weekend food bags for students in need at Mount Vernon Community School.
Rebecca King, a special education teacher who coordinates the program, said Blessings in a Backpack would like to help more students.
“Based on the need we see at our school we would like to increase the number of students we serve,” King wrote. “We would also like to provide more substantial and healthier food in our weekly bags.”
Foundation for Eleanora R Spratt Scholarship
The Foundation for Eleanora R. Spratt Scholarships honors the legacy of Dr. Eleanora R. Spratt who was a teacher, tutor, and mentor at the elementary, high school and college level until age 89. The foundation provides financial assistance to those enrolled in certification programs or higher education. It is run by foundation president Evelyn Spain, who is Spratt’s daughter.
In 2023, the organization hopes to donate at least three scholarships to individuals seeking professional certifications or advanced degrees.
Learn more at ferss.org.
Arts for All — Loudoun
Arts For All-Loudoun County is an affiliate of Access/VSA International Network, providing performing and visual arts opportunities for people of all abilities. Each year, the nonprofit offers fine arts programs and a full musical production with the help of volunteers and the board.
In 2023, the organization hope to earn donations to support its programs.
“AFA relies on the generosity of the community at large to give monetary donations, grant support, and gifts of time and talent to these much-needed programs, so that they continue to run seamlessly,” wrote Suzanne Robinson, a member of the board of directors. “Monetary gifts for scholarships to artists and actors/actresses are always welcome and needed to be sure AFA remains truly inclusive.”
Find more information at www.artsforallloudoun.org.
For nonprofit Hopecam, the goal is to help children with cancer don’t feel alone. Hopecam virtually connects children battling cancer with their family, friends and classmates. The nonprofit provides tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi access, and Hopecam resources at no cost to these families.
In 2023, Hopecam is seeking Amazon and Target gift cards to buy tablets and laptops for children with cancer to use. It also has an Amazon wish list.
To learn more, visit www.hopecam.org.
Pennywise Thrift Shop
Pennywise Thrift Shop is a place to shop for a good cause. Located at 214 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, the shop seeks to provide clothing and household items at a reasonable price to benefit charity. The shop is run by the Church of the Holy Comforter, which provides all profits from the shop to various charities.
According to chair Judy Kilkenny, the shop relies on donations of clothing, shoes, household items, jewelry and art work in good condition. Along with donations, the shop seeks new volunteers.
To learn more, visit holycomforter.com/pennywise.
Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria runs the city’s animal shelter and provides animal services and services for pet owners. The nonprofit’s mission is to “inspire compassion for all living things, to provide shelter to animals in need, and to promote adoptions, animal welfare and responsible pet ownership in our community.”
In 2023, the nonprofit is seeking foster caregivers, especially those that can host dogs. The wish list also includes supplies that can be used in the animal shelter and for pets around the community. Needed items include unscented clumping kitty litter, fleece blankets, canned dog and cat food, dry dog and cat food, peanut butter (without xylitol), paper bedding for guinea pigs and rabbits, Timothy hay, dog treats, cat toys, catnip, bully sticks, Feliway refills, training pads, Kong toys and Paper towels.
As always, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria appreciates the community spreading the word about adoptable pets so they can find homes more quickly.
Learn more at alexandriaanimals.org.
MedStreet brings medical care to the streets to serve the homeless in the greater Alexandria region. It brings care to the homeless wherever they need the help. The effort is spearheaded by Dr. William Mazzella, who practices internal medicine by day. By night, he is on the streets with his family, providing care and other help to the homeless.
In 2023, the volunteer-run organization seeks donations as well as volunteers for the Angel Volunteer Teams.
“MedStreet depends on the generosity of donors,” said lead volunteer Ginnie Record. “Our all-volunteer organization spends over 95 percent [of] every dollar raised on program expenses, including medicines, backpacks, food, and other personal items to support our homeless neighbors.”
According to Record, the best way to learn about the nonprofit is through the words of homeless neighbors. See the blog to read stories of people MedStreet helps, and visit www.medstreet.org/donate to donate.
Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia – Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring, Reston, Herndon and Great Falls
Shepherd’s Center helps seniors age in place with transportation and other services.
“Our mission is to create meaningful opportunities for service, lifelong learning, social connection, individual well-being, and independent living for older adults,” writes executive director Carolyn Pennington. “Our vision is to transform aging into an empowering experience to live a life of meaning.”
In 2023, the nonprofit is seeking gas cards for volunteer drivers, free transportation for clients and volunteer drivers. Office volunteers are needed to help with mail-outs, office work and data entry. Fundraisers and volunteer grant writers are also needed.
Pennington said the “best feeling” is letting clients know they have a ride to a necessary medical appointment. But it’s the “worst feeling” when the organization doesn’t have anyone to take seniors to their appointments. That’s why Pennington says it is important to help the nonprofit provide transportation to seniors in 2023.
To learn more, visit scnova.org.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors is a national nonprofit providing care for families of fallen military service members. It has provided care at no cost to families for nearly three decades, helping families with grief and trauma resulting from a military death.
Each year, TAPS seeks to provide resources such as survivor care, grief seminars for adults, camps for children, case work assistance, connections to community-based resources, and a 24/7 helpline to anyone grieving a military death, according to grant writer Claire Henline. An average 25 survivors connect with TAPS each day, which means the need usually outpaces TAPS’ ability to provide care.
Islamic Relief USA
Islamic Relief USA is a humanitarian organization based in Alexandria that provides relief and development “regardless of race, gender and creed and to amplify the voices of those who need to be heard.” For example, the organization has organized local food box packing by volunteers.
In 2023, the nonprofit’s wish list is “to alleviate poverty, hunger, and homelessness throughout our coverage areas, as well as improve access to clean water, healthcare, and affordable housing.”
To learn more and donate, visit irusa.org.
Falls Church, VA
Homestretch helps families experiencing homelessness achieve permanent housing and self-sufficiency. The nonprofit helps families by giving them the skills, knowledge and hope they need to become productive in the community, according to Nan Monday, grants and communications manager at Homestretch. Clients served by Homestretch have children, and many are fleeing domestic violence or face poverty.
In 2023, the community can help by donating needed items like baby diapers, baby wipes, household cleaning supplies, grocery store gift cards, gas cards and Uber cards.
To learn more, visit www.homestretchva.org.
Second Story serves youth and their families by providing a safe place and opportunities for youth, according to the nonprofit’s communications manager Meredith Henry. Programs include Second Story for Teens in Crisis with short-term housing for youth in crisis; Second Story for Homeless Youth and Second Story for Young Mothers with long-term housing and life skills support, counseling, and help with basic needs; and Second Story in the Community with drop-in centers for families and after-school programs for youth. Second Story also hosts drives for backpacks, toys and Thanksgiving baskets along with food distributions, health clinics and other community events.
In 2023, the nonprofit’s wish is for a community in which all young people are “safe, live in a nurturing environment, and have the opportunity to reach their full potential.” Second Story has a goal of raising $1.55 million to continue serving youth in crisis with short- and long-term residential support. Funds help with needs such as food, after-school support, health education, drop-in services and other resources.
Second Story is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“Your first story includes the circumstances you were born into—sometimes challenging and unfair,” explained Henry. “We help youth turn the page on that first story and write their second story. We do so by stepping in at critical turning points to provide young people and their families with safe havens and opportunities to grow and thrive.”
All Ages Read Together (AART)
All Ages Read Together provides rree preschool programs in Northern Virginia communties. It is not based in one location, as its preschool model can be delivered anywhere. It serves families that are above income limits for publicly-funded programs but cannot afford to pay out of pocket for private preschool.
“One of the fundamental beliefs of AART is we need to meet children and families where they are and not the other way around,” wrote executive director Michelle Sullivan. “All AART classes take place in in-kind donated spaces like libraries, affordable housing communities, and senior centers. Not only does this help AART keep operating costs down, but it also eliminates any transportation barriers that might exist.”
In 2023, the nonprofit’s wish list calls for supplies: construction paper, multi-purpose/Printer paper, clothespins, Crayola crayons 24 pack, dry erase markers, glue bottles, craft pompoms (various colors and sizes), playdough, playdough toys, plastic cookie cutters, puzzles for 3 to 5-year-olds, backpacks, left-handed children’s scissors and Post-It notes. Needed books include the Big Red Barn board book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar board book, and Kindergarten Countdown.
To learn more, visit www.allagesreadtogether.org.
George Washington Legacy Foundation
The nonprofit George Washington Legacy Foundation supports educational and civic activities promoting George Washington and his legacy. It provides grants to qualifying nonprofits and government entities to support these kinds of educational and civic activities. It is the primary funding source for Alexandria’s annual George Washington’s Birthday Parade.
“We expect most of what we raise in 2023 to go toward ensuring that the parade takes place each year at the level of quality for which Alexandria is famous,” said chief development officer Shawn Eyer. “The Foundation also wishes, if circumstances permit, to consider other worthy activities that fall within the scope of our mission: to support educational and civic activities that aim to enlighten public awareness about George Washington and his legacy.”
The foundation’s president Marion Moon has offered to match individual donations up to a $5,000 total. To learn more, visit washingtonlegacyfoundation.org.
Northern Virginia Diaper Bank
NOVA Diaper Bank provides free diapers to families with babies who need diaper assistance in Northern Virginia. In 2023, the community can help with donations and purchases from wish lists on Amazon, Walmart and Target.
Learn more and find the wish lists at www.NOVADiaperBank.org.
Medical Missionaries is a volunteer group that seeks to improve health care for the poorest residents in the U.S. and the world. The nonprofit provides medical care, equipment and supplies, clothing and food.
In 2023, the nonprofit’s wish list includes items needed for areas of need. Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloths and dental floss are needed for hygiene packs. Formula, baby clothes and diapers are needed for mommy/baby packs. Non-perishable food is needed for the Rocklick Food Pantry in the Grundy area of Appalachia. Medical supplies and equipment are needed for containers shipped oversees to support health care and infrastructure.
Learn more at www.medicalmissionaries.org.
Jewish Relief Network Ukraine
This nonprofit provides humanitarian aid for people in Ukraine, which has been impacted by war since Russia’s invasion in early 2022. The nonprofit’s wish list for 2023 includes donations and items purchased through an Amazon wish list.
Learn more at www.jrnu.org.
Fellowship Square Foundation
Fellowship Square serves older adults who struggle to make ends meet by providing affordable housing and supportive services. According to communications and development director Brenda Martinez, the nonprofits services, activities and events seek to help residents “physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, creatively, spiritually and vocationally.”
In 2023, the nonprofit seeks volunteers to help with food distribution, translation services, health and wellness and spiritual programs and new activity options for residents.
For more information, visit www.fellowshipsquare.org.
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