By Katie Smythe
About 350 volunteers from a range of organizations joined together in a community service day for the seventh annual Spring for Alexandria. Many groups were out in force yesterday; some postponed to next week because of Thursday’s weather. In all, work is being done at 22 sites across the city.
Spring for Alexandria – a partnership between Volunteer Alexandria and the City of Alexandria – is a series of events celebrating working, living and giving in this community. Launched in 2007, this celebration has engaged thousands of volunteers with thousands of hours of volunteer time donated around the city. Spring for Alexandria is central to the community’s springtime culture and a model of working together for the common good by businesses, nonprofits, neighbors, youth and government. Two major events highlight the 2014 campaign: Volunteer Alexandria’s Business Philanthropy Summit on May 7 and the Community Service Day on May 16.
Spring for Alexandria 2014 included: landscaping, room cleaning and pantry stocking at Carpenter’s Shelter; building and painting bookcases for kids at Wright to Read; readying the children’s garden and planting grass seed at the Black History Museum; painting and organizing at the Dunbar Boys & Girls Club; groundskeeping at Windmill Hill Park; and freshening up and painting at Community Lodgings Brent Place.
Courtney Bishop of Carpenter’s Shelter applauded the effort of countless volunteers who help sustain the shelter and its work in the community. Yesterday, volunteers from the Society for Human Resource Management cleaned rooms, moved furniture, stocked shelves in the pantry and spruced up the grounds. For the SHRM volunteers it was a way to give back and directly make a difference in people’s lives who might be struggling.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office had 16 people – half of the staff – participating in the community service day at Wright to Read, which helps Alexandria youth enjoy books and improve reading skills through tutoring and mentoring programs. The volunteers built and decorated small bookcases that the kids in the program can take home for their own assortment of books.
The Sheriff's Office Helping Hands Team also participated in Spring for Alexandria, working on the grounds of Ladrey House, a high-rise for seniors at 300 Wythe Street operated by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority. While members of the Alexandria Bar Association Young Lawyers painted rooms inside Ladrey House, the Helping Hands Team scraped and painted benches, planted flowers and spread mulch in the courtyard.
At the Dunbar Boys & Girls Club, volunteers from Westin and the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association helped with weeding, mulching and planting outside and painting and organizing inside. They also helped with summer camp preparation, a major program of the Boys & Girls Club that starts at the end of June.
“The value of these service project days is huge,” said branch director Chad Merica. “These efforts are real game changers for us.”
The community service day ended with an after-party at Old Town Theater where Deputy City Manager Debra Collins addressed the volunteers.