Continuing their long-held tradition, realtors throughout our region are trying to help make this a warm and happy holiday for less-fortunate families by donating food, toys and gifts for those in need. Here are some places where you can help:
Long & Foster
You can leave unwrapped new toys at any Long & Foster office every day until Monday, Dec. 15, as part of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves 61st annual Toys for Tots drive. The gifts will be distributed to local churches, social welfare agencies and needy children throughout the region.
Last years National Toys For Tots campaign distributed 16.7 million toys benefiting 7.5 million youngsters, including thousands in Long & Fosters seven state service area.
In Alexandria, the locations are 400 King St. (703-683-0400), 5845 Richmond Highway (703-960-8900) and 500 Montgomery St. (703-548-3700). In Kingstowne, they are 5911 Kingstowne Village Parkway (703-313-6500) and 7027A Manchester Bl. (703-313-6499).
Toys For Tots also receives unwrapped new gifts at the Keller Williams office at Kingstowne. During the first week of December we put the box out, managing broker Rich Davila says. Their major push will be part of their holiday party on Friday, Dec. 12 and all donations are needed by noon Dec. 24.
I started doing this in Massachusetts, he recalls. We donated to a local group called The Home for Little Wanderers and later decided to coordinate with Toys For Tots. He estimates that the drive attracted about 75 donations last year.
Keller Williams / Kingstowne: 6354 Walker Lane #100 (703-562-1800).
In the Alexandria/Old Town office of Keller Williams, realtors Allison Jensen and Bryan Taylor are leading a heartwarmingand footwarmingcampaign. When we delivered the school supplies to Cameron Elementary after our August drive, the principal told us that she sees a lot of kids coming in with no socks, Jensen explains. So the realtors will try to provide them. She adds, We did not think it would cost much to buy a pack at Wal-Mart, where, a 12-pack of Hanes crew socks is $8.76 or $9.32 for boys and girls, respectively.
To kick off the event, the agents plan a sock hop, where they will wear their own socks to work and bring new ones to donate, before the drive ends on Nov. 14. She says, We want the children to get the socks before it is too cold, and hopes that the program will become a regular fall event.
In addition, the agents are donating non-perishable canned and packaged foods through Nov. 25, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It will be donated to the United Community Ministries food pantry. The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors had also asked its members to bring food donations for the UCM to its recent annual convention and trade show.
The public is also welcome to contribute to both campaigns.
Keller Williams/Old Town: 607 South Washington (703-535-3610).
Century 21 Accent Homes
Another local school benefits from the Century 21 holiday drive. We have been going to the Cameron Elementary School to adopt a family or two, says managing broker Tom Sklopan. The guidance counselor provides the genders and ages of the anonymous familys members, along with both their basic needs and gift wish lists.
We have been doing it for four or five years, he recalls. We wanted to reach out and touch a family or two in our own neighborhood, and we usually raise $200 or $300 for each one.
Last year, realtor Norma Heck led the volunteers trip to Wal-Mart to buy coats, jeans and sweaters for the families plus toys and games for the boys. To preserve their anonymity, the school passed the gifts along to them.
While the realtors donate most of the money, Sklopan adds, We have had clients who came to the office, saw what we were doing and made contributions. We do not ask them to do it, but we do not turn any donations away!
Century 21 Accent Homes: 3111 Telegraph Corner Lane, #200 (703-971-5000)
We have a big toy drive within our office, managing broker Dave Hawkins reports. But if the public wants to donate unwrapped toys too, we will find a home for them!
That home is Hopkins House, a local organization that provides pre-school and day care to the children of low-income families. That helps their parents get back into the work force, he explains. It is a wonderful service to our community. His agency has been helping them for at least 15 years, and he estimates that it collected about 100 toys last year. Teenagers benefit from the $25 gift cards that are donated to the Boys and Girls Club.
The office also hosts a holiday party at Hopkins House, where the children receive their gifts from Santawho, last year, bore a striking resemblance to Hawkins himself. For Santa, as well as for his little friends, it must have been an especially happy holiday.
McEnearnay Associates: 109 South Pitt St. (703-349-9292).
If your office is also planning a holiday charity drive, please send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.