Your Views: Let’s ACT together in this crisis

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To the editor:

Our community is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis: the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As we plan for the well-being of our own families, I hope we will also consider how to support our neighbors.

The definition of philanthropy is “love of human-kind.” Since I arrived in Alexandria two years ago, I continue to be awestruck by the outpouring of love for this community through generous charitable donations to the organizations that make Alexandria so special.

COVID-19 will create significant hardship across our community in the weeks and months ahead. The average American family has less than $400 in savings. Consider a scenario where two parents work multiple low-wage jobs. Their kids were receiving two meals a day at school through the free and reduced lunch program, as well as after school enrichment to help them stay on track academically.

With schools closed, the parents must choose between staying at home with their kids or continuing to work. What other tough choices will they have to make about rent, utilities, food and basic needs? What tough choices will they have to make in the months ahead as they face layoffs or reduced hours from their jobs?

Alexandria’s nonprofits are on the front lines of confronting this crisis. They provide emergency food and financial assistance, deliver meals to home-bound seniors and provide affordable medical care and housing and shelter. However, they don’t have the financial reserves to purchase extra food, hire additional staff or respond to the increased demand for services. At the same time, they must cope with the loss of revenue from canceled fundraising events.

This is why the City of Alexandria and ACT for Alexandria have established the ACT Now COVID-19 Response Fund. The City of Alexandria will match donations, up to $100,000, to support nonprofit organizations helping Alexandrians affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. ACT has committed $25,000 from its reserve funds.

The ACT Now COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund will take a multi-phased approach as the impact of the outbreak unfolds. In the near term the fund will prioritize efforts that focus on the needs of children and youth, low-wage workers, seniors and immigrants. The fund will support activities such as the purchase of food and supplies to support emergency response, expansion of programs and services and development of new programs. Requests for funding can be submitted weekly and will be reviewed immediately to ensure that nonprofits quickly receive critical funding. Grants will be awarded on an on-going basis commiserate with the funding raised. For more information on how to submit a request for funding, please visit www.actforalexandria.org.

Many generous Alexandrians have already donated to the fund. Their support will mean much to those hit hardest by the crisis. You can make a donation of any size to the ACT Now COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund at https://www.givegab.com/campaigns/actnowcovid19fund. Thank you for making Alexandria a great community.

-Heather Peeler, president & CEO, ACT for Alexandria

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