Our View: One week, two special days in Alexandria

Our View: One week, two special days in Alexandria
This inviting swing sets the stage for a lovely courtyard garden on South St. Asaph Street on tour at this year's Historic Garden Week tour (Photo Credit: Louise Krafft)

Two significant events take place in Alexandria this week and they are both historic and philanthropic. Each helps reveal the nature of our city and what it means to be an Alexandrian.

First up, for the 85th time, the Garden Club of Virginia is sponsoring a week of home and garden tours around the state. This year, the kickoff is Saturday in Old Town, where five homes are open for viewing. Around 1,500 garden, history and architecture buffs are expected to tour the homes, which include one property that dates to 1749 on land purchased by George Washington’s half-brother Augustine and another that was built by the first mayor of Alexandria.

That’s the historic part of the garden tour. What those who stroll through don’t see are the hundreds of hours of volunteer preparation it takes to stage this event, for the tour is both a labor of love and an act of philanthropy for those who participate. Proceeds from the tickets fund the Garden Club of Virginia’s restoration and preservation projects, consisting of more than 40 Virginia historic public gardens, among other things.

Homeowners who open their houses to the public spend months and go to considerable expense readying their properties for the big day. Volunteers from the Hunting Creek Garden Club and the Garden Club of Alexandria create amazing floral arrangements that adorn each room in each home, and dozens of volunteers work as docents in the houses.
Alexandria’s second special event this week is the annual day of giving called Spring2ACTion on April 25. Sponsored by ACT for Alexandria, this will be the eighth annual day set aside to give online in support of our city’s many worthy nonprofit organizations.
The day is a reminder that nonprofit organizations need funds year-round, not just at year’s end. As we clear out and clean up with the arrival of spring, we also should remember to give back. This year 164 nonprofit organizations will participate in Spring2ACTion, up from 47 participants in the inaugural year of 2011.

During the past seven years, the number of donations has increased tenfold, from 1,265 in 2011 to 12,819 last year. The amount of money raised increased from $104,156 to more than $1.5 million last year. For 2018, ACT has a goal of $1.7 million.

One of the best things about the day of giving is there are nonprofits that match the interests of virtually everyone, so people can put their charitable giving where their hearts lie. Whether your passion is children, seniors, immigrants or those who are disabled or homeless, there are organizations that meet that need in Alexandria.

For more information on participating nonprofits, please see the Times giving guide in this issue that starts on page 18 – or go to www.spring2ACTion.org to give.

Saturday is expected to be a spectacular day weather-wise, so if you’ve never done the home and garden tour, this is a great year to start. A map of the homes on tour is on page 6 in this week’s issue.

And as with election “day,” Spring2ACTion allows early giving, so you don’t have to wait for next Wednesday to make a donation if you’d rather give now.

We are blessed to live in a city like Alexandria, where history and giving seem to go hand-in-hand. This year, consider supporting both the Home and Garden Tour and Spring2ACTion. You’ll feel truly ready for spring after touring these lovely homes and gardens – and offering a hand up to those who need it.