Ways to give

The holiday season is upon us. Let's give back!

Looking for ways to give back this holiday season? Look no further: We've compiled some suggestions!

1. Donate your gently used coats, sweaters, sweatshirts, hats and gloves to the annual Rosslyn Holiday Clothing Drive, which starts November 25.

All clothing will go directly to A-SPAN (Arlington Street People's Assistance Network) to help their clients stay warm this winter. You can find donation boxes in the lobbies of participating Rosslyn buildings. Learn more here. Or, drop off your donations at the Rosslyn BID's office, located at 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, LL-10. It's an easy way to give back. Last year we collected 260 bags. Let's see if we can break our record!

2. Find creative ways to incorporate giving into your holiday gatherings.

Are you hosting Friendsgiving or other holiday get-togethers? Ask each friend to bring one canned good or nonperishable item to donate to Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). Since 1988, AFAC has provided access to nutritious supplemental groceries for Arlington residents who can't afford enough food to meet their daily needs. AFAC provides a list of nonperishable groceries they need on their website. If you want to take it to the next level, you can host your own official food drive that you can register on AFAC's website. You can also sign up for some of AFAC's many other volunteering opportunities, such as delivering food to AFAC's many drop-off points or bagging fresh produce and dry goods.

3. Give blood.

The INOVA Blood Donor Services bloodmobile will be in Rosslyn on Tuesday, December 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Giving blood saves lives and only requires a brief time commitment. If you work in Rosslyn, in particular, you can take advantage of this opportunity to help someone in need. Learn more here.

4. Donate to charity.

There are so many organizations you can support it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. If you don't have time to volunteer, give what you can to someone in need. How much should you give? Charity Navigator provides this useful giving calculator to help you decide what's reasonable for you based on your income. However, it's not important how much you give, but rather that you get into the habit of giving, period. There are many worthy local charities so we're reluctant to play favorites in suggesting some (we don't want to leave anyone out!). But, of course, we love supporting Arlington-based charities, such as those listed here. You can also think about a cause that matters to you—maybe it's the environment, offender rehabilitation or people experiencing homelessness. Search for charities by topic, name and location on Charity Navigator's website to find one you'd like to support, or vet a charity you're already interested in to see if they spend funds wisely.

5. Purchase gifts that give back.

Good Sweat team members outside the studio in Upper Rosslyn. A class pack for the social-impact indoor cycling studio could make a great holiday gift.

If you're going to give gifts, consider choosing ones that make a difference. In Rosslyn, we are proud to have two organizations that offer altruistic gift-giving opportunities. When you give your friends Pheo Coffee, which is produced by Rosslyn resident Larry Istrail, proceeds from your purchase help fund surgeries in less-developed countries. You can also consider giving a friend a class pack from Good Sweat Studio. A relatively new indoor cycling studio founded by Arlington resident Ali Hashemi, Good Sweat gives you a killer workout and donates a percentage of all proceeds to local charities. Class pack options available here. And South Block also has a giving initiative: 10 percent of gift card sales from Black Friday (November 29) through December 31 will be donated to their nonprofit, Fruitful Planet. Spend more than $25 on gift cards and receive a Fruitful Planet wristband.

6. Be a Secret Santa!

Arlington County's Department of Human Services is sponsoring a Secret Santa program that can help make the holiday season a little happier for some of the county's more vulnerable residents. Participating is easy: Simply donate gift cards from area stores, such as grocery stores, drug stores, clothing stores or a big-box store like Target. The Department of Human Services will distribute them to more than 1,000 people who need them. This program has no administrative or overhead costs, so 100 percent of donations are distributed to residents. Gift cards help people engaged in the Department of Human Services' safety net programs, which include children in foster care, people with disabilities and seniors with low incomes, families with low incomes and teen parents. Gift cards should not exceed $25, but you can donate as many as you want. You can also send a check made out to "Arlington County Treasurer - Secret Santa." Learn more here.

7. Donate to a holiday toy drive: Both the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing are offering opportunities to give.

The next time you're out shopping, pick up a toy to donate to a local toy drive.

The Arlington County Police Department is seeking new, unwrapped toys for their "Fill the Cruiser" Holiday Toy Drive. Toys should be for children who are newborn to 17 years old. The cruiser will be parked at various locations throughout Arlington now through November 29. If you can't make it to one of the "Fill the Cruiser" events you can drop off your donations at police headquarters, located at 1425 N. Courthouse Road. Get details here.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) is also sponsoring a toy drive for children from the age of newborn to 12 years old. Donate toys in the $25 range by either dropping them off at Gilliam Place Apartments in Arlington on a designated day, choosing a gift from APAH's Amazon wish list or making a monetary donation to APAH's Holiday Gift Drive. Learn more here

8. Give your time. Volunteer!

Volunteers bag dry goods at the Arlington Food Assistance Center warehouse. Photo via AFAC's Instagram page.

Arlington County offers many opportunities for individuals to make a difference in our community through volunteering. If you're not sure where to start or don't have time to do a lot of research, try using Volunteer Arlington's Volunteer Matching Tool. It helps you filter opportunities (330 the last time we checked!) based on date, location, skills needed and impact. Commit to volunteering one time between now and the end of the year. Invite some friends to join you and make it a fun social experience!

9. Are you a dog owner? Prep your pup for a nursing home visit over the holidays or be intentional about sharing your pet with someone who may need cheering up.

Animals can be a great comfort—part of the reason therapy dogs are such a welcome sight in nursing homes and hospitals. Most nursing homes require that your dog be properly trained and certified before allowing a visit (groups like National Capital Therapy Dogs and OffLeash K9 Training can help you get certified) but that doesn't mean you can't be out and about with your well-trained dog in places where a four-legged friend might be a welcome sight, such as parks or other public places. If you need to go for a walk anyway, why not take your time and be intentional about where you go? Go someplace where you might encounter people who are by themselves. Then, slow down and be generous about letting them pet your dog and play with him or her. You don't have to do this every day, but it's something you can be deliberate about during the holidays. 

10. Join our social media campaign to show the world how #RosslynCares. You could earn $100 for the charity of your choice!

Do you have other ideas for how to give back that we haven't mentioned here? Maybe there's a local charity you're passionate about? Maybe there's a "good deed" you do regularly or a perspective you'd like to share on ways to give back? Let us know on social media! When you post about how you’re giving back with the hashtag #RosslynCares, you’ll be entered to win $100 that we’ll donate to a charity of your choice in your name! Just make sure that your post is public and that you’re following @RosslynVA on your preferred social media network: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. We’ll continually update this article with your submissions. Post your submission by Monday, December 16. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 17.

Pet owner? This holiday season, prep your dog for nursing home visits by going through therapy dog training. If that's too much to take on, try being more intentional about sharing your pet with others when out for a routine walk. It's a small gesture that could brighten someone's day.
Photo at top: Donation boxes for the Rosslyn Holiday Clothing Drive, which starts November 25.
 Featured Rosslyn Events

FRESHFARM Rosslyn Farmers Market
Wednesday, May 5 - Wednesday, October 27
at Central Place Plaza

Rosslyn LIVE from Gateway Park
Thursday, July 15 - Thursday, August 5
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Rosslyn Rivals: Cornhole
Wednesday, July 21 - Wednesday, August 18
at 1401 Wilson Blvd., MDistrict Park, LLC.