In Alexandria we give as well as get


The old adage “to those to whom much has been given, much is expected” certainly holds true in our era of affluence. In Alexandria, many are lucky to possess great wealth. Our estimated per capita personal income for 2007 was $70,632 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, which puts Alexandria 12th nationally (and first in the Washington region).

Fortunately, Alexandrians also hold up the giving back part of the proverb. The generosity of those living in our municipality is enormous and can be measured in numerous ways. For instance, Alexandria ranked first nationwide in 2009 for online charitable giving, according to a report by the nonprofit consultant firm Convio. 

Alexandrians give not only money, but also volunteer our time in large numbers. This weekend, our whole city’s focus turns to philanthropy in our annual Spring for Alexandria three-day celebration. The weekend kicks off Thursday night with ACT for Alexandria’s annual Generations of Giving gala, at which the Guiffre family will be honored for their multi-generational charitable endeavors.

Friday brings Volunteer Alexandria’s Business Philanthropy summit in the morning. Companies The Motley Fool and A show of Hands and individuals Ken Naser and Lee Fifer will be honored there for their philanthropy. Following the summit, teams of volunteers will fan out throughout the city to paint buildings, clean up trash and garden at various Alexandria nonprofits.

Giving back also includes environmental stewardship, an issue of paramount importance to many in our city. Alexandrians turned out in force last week for Earth Day activities at various locations. Activities included hands on conservation and preservation activities for kids and clean-ups that all ages helped with. In addition, long-time conservationist Montie Kust was awarded the second annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence award by the Alexandria Sanitation Authority.

Charity work in Alexandria starts young, as evidenced by service projects completed year-round by children (and teachers) from our public and private schools and by organizations like the Keystone Club, a service group within Alexandria’s Boys and Girls Club. Kids Helping Kids will hold its ninth annual Lemonaide Day this Saturday, a city-wide event in which children set up stands across the city to raise money for child-focused nonprofits in Alexandria. This year Kids Helping Kids expects to have more than 30 stands with a goal of $7,500 raised to support Coats for Kids and the ALIVE! Child Development Center. 

Alexandria is not perfect by any means, a fact that is frequently pointed out in this space. The poor, the hungry, the undereducated and the lonely remain in our midst and likely will into perpetuity.  But Alexandrians can also take heart in the knowledge that ours is a city in which large numbers of us, of all ages and income levels, give generously of our time and talents trying to help others. Spring for Alexandria is a three-day event, but the spirit of giving lives year round in our city.