Serve those in need by using the city’s most valuable resource: You

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As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, Volunteer Alexandria looks forward to Spring for Alexandria on April 30, when hundreds of volunteers across the city will complete projects for our nonprofit and government agencies. Alexandria City Public Schools students will participate in projects at their schools that day.

We are thrilled this year to welcome the participation of 12 professional associations. What a great joy it has been to develop relationships with these organizations, more than 400 of which are headquartered here. Thanks to the generosity of Bittersweet Catering, Panera Bread Company and Starbucks, Volunteer Alexandria staff and committee members were able to deliver pastries and coffee to more than 20 associations  as we dropped off materials and spoke to association staff about Spring for Alexandria. 

The results were beyond our expectations. Twelve of the groups have formed teams for our community service day and others have indicated an interest in lining up projects during the year. 

It is commonly said about volunteer recruitment that personal invitations make all the difference. That certainly proved true in this instance. Though we cannot personally invite everyone to participate in Spring for Alexandria, we try each year to expand our invitation to people and organizations who we might not have reached in the past. If you are one of those, please consider forming or joining a team for the April 30 event. Go to www.springforalexandria.org and register. And if you cannot participate that day, go to the registration site and become a “financial volunteer” by sponsoring one of the teams or individuals for the time they are putting in.

Spring for Alexandria celebrates all kinds of philanthropy, including community service. Individual philanthropy is celebrated at ACT for Alexandria’s Gala on Thursday, April 29, where the Giuffre family will be honored for its contributions to the city; business philanthropy will be highlighted at Volunteer Alexandria’s Business Philanthropy Summit on April 30, featuring northern Virginia philanthropist Earl Stafford as keynote speaker and honoring The Motley Fool and A Show of Hands as Business Philanthropists of the Year. Ken Naser of ALIVE! and Lee Fifer of Carpenter’s Shelter will be honored as Nonprofit Leader and Nonprofit Board Leader of the Year, respectively.  

The summit will be followed that same day by the citywide Service Day, which celebrates and puts into action the giving of one’s time and the giving of one’s material “treasure.” And on May 1 the Jaycees will coordinate a Community Contributions Day during which people can bring their clothes, eyeglasses and food, among other things, to donate to nonprofits that benefit our city’s most vulnerable residents. You can even buy lemonade there and at various locations around the city to help Kids Helping Kids raise money for children’s charities.

I am struck each year by the philanthropy that allows such an event to occur at all. Though I mentioned three businesses earlier that helped Volunteer Alexandria to recruit some of our professional associations to the event, I could not begin to mention all of the businesses that have donated their time and products. You can find the names of these donors on the Volunteer Alexandria and ACT for Alexandria websites. Two of our local business associations, West End and Del Ray, have formed teams for the service day, and they are joined by Old Town Business and Professional Association as sponsors of the business summit. The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has promoted the events to the business community, which has responded enthusiastically.  

This is truly a celebration of giving. If you have not been personally invited yet to take part, please consider this your invitation. Join us.  

Melinda Patrician is the executive director of Volunteer Alexandria, a nonprofit organization that links members of the community with volunteerism.

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