The New Year dawned with icebox-like temperatures and gusty winds, leaving some people to wonder about predictions of global warming. Sure didn’t feel like it this week!
The bitterly cold weather, and the promise of more of the same, should remind us to take simple precautions when heading out of the house or office. Wear a hat and gloves. A woman walking her dog over the weekend wore a full-length down coat, but her head and hands were bare in the blustery afternoon. Up to 60 percent of body heat is lost through the head, so a hat is a wise accessory. Likewise, since hypothermia can strike fingers and toes quickly, gloves or mittens are a must. A young man in shirtsleeves in downtown Annandale probably thought he was just going to run a short errand, but going out without a coat was just plain foolish.
Imagine this cold weather, and then imagine your home’s electricity or gas is about to be turned off because you can’t pay the bill. Emergency assistance is available through many non-profit organizations, such as ACCA, the Annandale Christian Community for Action, a coalition of more than two dozen faith communities in the Annandale/Falls Church area. Non-profits and volunteers depend on the generosity of their donors and supporters, and the past year has been especially hard on charities because of the increased need for services. In 2009, ACCA helped 658 households with more than $300,000 for rent, utility bills, prescriptions, and miscellaneous needs. The ACCA safety net includes a food pantry, a furniture team, and a transportation ministry, as well as a Meals on Wheels program that delivered more than 18,000 meals to shut-ins.
ACCA needs our help now more than ever. Changing and challenging economic conditions is a two-edged sword: more people needing assistance, and fewer people with the means to donate. A special Challenge Grant opportunity from the Washington Forrest Foundation expires on January 31, so funds raised by ACCA between now and the end of this month will be matched. Contributions may be sent to ACCA, Inc., 7200 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003. Note “Challenge Grant” on the memo line of your check, which should be made payable to ACCA. Every little bit helps; no amount is too small to help those in need.
ACCA was named “One of the Best” small non-profits in the Washington Metro Area by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. One of the attributes that makes ACCA unique among non-profits is its all-volunteer administrative structure. Other than the ACCA Child Care Center, which has paid staff, ACCA’s work is done by dedicated volunteers. There is no office rent, no salaried staff or benefits, and little or no “overhead.” The ACCA volunteer who coordinates assistance for a family might well be operating out of a spare bedroom, using his or her own phone, computer, and Internet access to help. ACCA’s mission is simple – to serve those in need and provide assistance. Today is a good day to write that check!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]