Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Dozens of elementary school teachers, guidance counselors, and volunteers gathered for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s annual toy giveaway on Monday.
The event, which follows annual backpack and coat drives, was held at Fire Station 11 on Richmond Highway, but the giveaway benefitted elementary schools across the county, including several in Mason District. Fire apparatus parked on the driveway apron of the station, allowing the truck bays to be stacked high with age and gender-appropriate toys and bicycles slated for delivery to students whose Christmas might be a little bleak this year.
Fire Captain Will Bailey acted as the master of ceremonies, and highlighted the extraordinary response from businesses and volunteer groups this year. Donations are collected privately throughout the year, so that teams of volunteers can shop for gifts at local stores. One new restaurant, Jersey Mike’s, donated profits from its first five days of opening, raising more than $2000 for the effort. The Rotary Club of Tyson’s Corner, Fairfax County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Local 2068, several fraternal organizations, and a multitude of non-profit organizations and volunteers made this the largest toy drive yet.
The Fire Department works with teachers and counselors who identify the neediest students in their schools, and then act as Santa Claus to distribute the toys. As Captain Bailey noted, “it’s all about the kids.” It’s also all about the generous nature of Fairfax County, whose residents and businesses enjoy an enviable quality of life. But not everyone enjoys high incomes and good-paying jobs. About five percent of Fairfax County, or 55,000 men, women, and children, live in poverty, as measured by federal government guidelines, and many others are struggling. Projects like the Fire Department toy drive are replicated throughout Fairfax County. Food pantries, coat drives, furniture donations, rental assistance, help with energy bills, especially in winter, and health care are nearly everyday efforts for faith communities, non-profit social service agencies, and parent-teacher groups. Fairfax County is fortunate to have such an engaged citizenry to augment local government services. Together, we truly can make a difference in people’s lives and create a positive and exciting future for our community.
If you travel eastbound on Columbia Pike, you may be interested in the following important information. Heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Lee in September damaged a portion under the roadway adjacent to the footbridge, across from the Lake Barcroft dam. Temporary barrels were placed near the damage to alert drivers of the potential problem, until a contractor could be engaged by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the state agency that controls and maintains roads in Fairfax County. The repair project will begin this week, and is expected to extend into the first week of January. The eastbound right lane will be closed to traffic during the repairs; traffic will be directed to the left lane. A number of utilities (water, gas, cable) are located in the immediate area of the repair; it is unknown at this time whether any temporary utility shut off to nearby properties will be required for the safety of the workers. No work is anticipated during the two holiday weekends.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]