Putting spring in the city’s step


Since its inception two years ago, Spring for Alexandria has gone from just an idea to an extended weekend of community service in all forms as it enters its third year as a well-known Alexandria institution. 

It kicks off Thursday and all indicators point to this year being the most successful installment yet of the collaboration of city residents, Volunteer Alexandria, the city government, ACT for Alexandria, Kids Helping Kids and the Alexandria Jaycees.

“We’ve developed a structure that truly allows everybody in Alexandria from across the board government, business, nonprofits or individuals to be involved,” said Lyles Carr, co-chair and co-founder of the event.

Spring for Alexandria consists of the Annual Business Philanthropy Summit, the Community Service Day, Generations of Giving Gala, a celebration at Market Square and the newest event, Alexandria Gives, which encourages residents to clear out their closets and donate their belongings to those in need.

The Motley Fool and A Show of Hands will be recognized as business philanthropists of the year while Ken Naser, executive director of ALIVE!, is Volunteer Alexandria’s nonprofit leader of the year. Lee Fifer, who has been on the Carpenter’s Shelter board of directors for 12 years and contributed to other nonprofits during his lifelong city residency, will be recognized as the nonprofit board leader of the year.

“The thing that stands out most about A Show of Hands is the two owners’ total immersion into the community in terms of their involvement in civic associations, business associations and every event that’s sponsored by those groups,” said Melinda Patrician, executive director of Volunteer Alexandria. 

The Guiffre family, which owns Guiffre Distributing, will be honored at the Generations of Giving Gala for their family’s dedication to community service spanning multiple generations.

“What we’re acknowledging is that we need that legacy to continue and to encourage the passing of the torch to the next generation and the Guiffres are exactly the kind of family that got that early and has successfully passed that torch to generations to contribute to the community,” Carr said.

Organizers say this year’s Spring for Alexandria has broken records in every realm, from the Community Service Day when residents and businesses lend their time to good deeds around the city, to the Lemonaide program, a network of Lemonade stands that collect donations.
And it’s only going to grow, according to Carr.

“I suspect that this will only get bigger as more people become involved,” Carr said. “I see it as being a week, eventually, but our goal is to extend the mentality to the rest of the year.”