ALIVE! During COVID
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted each of us, bringing changes to our personal routines, increasing and altering where we find need around our city, and affecting the operations of businesses. ALIVE! has been working to respond to the changes in many ways, while also taking very seriously the safety and health of our staff, clients and volunteers. To that end we, have reduced some of our functions and ramped up others.
Through the continued support by the Alexandria community and the City we are able to keep food going out and provide financial assistance to those in need. It is inspiring and overwhelming to realize the greatness of this community and its strength.
Since the outbreak began we have increased the amount of food we have distributed dramatically. As part of this effort we have distributed 40,000 subsistence meals to 8,000 people, representing about 2,000 families, through 4 drive-thru “truck-to-trunk” distributions. We hope to do another one of these again at the end of May. Additionally, we continue to serve our community partners, pantries, and meal kitchens and have supplied them with more than 3 times the amount of food we normally provide. Further, we have set aside a reserve of food at the city’s request for people who may be in quarantine without access to food. We have also supplied shelf stable groceries to homeless families assigned to hotels, transitional shelters (including our own), families of low-income preschool students, seniors in low-income housing, and tripled our in-home delivery program over the last three weeks.
Our emergency financial assistance program has seen a significant increase in requests for rental support and we expect the need to increase exponentially in the coming months.
Our transitional shelter, ALIVE! House is open, but our residents are required to Shelter in place – restricting residents, as they cannot share spaces and they are not allowed to have visitors – and keeping us from moving any additional families into shelter because of these restrictions. This of course, makes life a little more challenging for everyone. The ALIVE! House Director is staying with the families as much as possible to support their needs and has a wish list on Amazon. If you wish to support the residents, we encourage you to purchase directly through this link: https://a.co/axwl7lI. We know that toilet paper is a concern, as well as reading material for older kids.
Our Child Development Center is closed for the safety and welfare of our students and staff. We are one of the few full-year, all-day early childhood centers in Alexandria that is available for low-income families. Closing our school was not an easy decision and remains a big concern for our organization as many students and their families depend on the care we provide. We hope you will consider a donation to support the CDC so that it can re-open to students as soon as possible once the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.
For now, we are not taking donations of furniture, housewares or food to limit the spread of virus – if you have these things to donate – please hold on to them. We will need them later. Right now, we are not able to take them, sort them, or deliver them safely.
We value your support during these difficult times. ALIVE! is a small organization with a small staff and we hope that by answering some questions we can focus on getting volunteers to the places they need to be to help us continue to deliver needed services to our clients.
I would like to volunteer- How do I volunteer? We ask volunteers to register with Volunteer Alexandria www.volunteeralexandria.org , work in shifts, maintain appropriate distance when working with us, wear masks (bring their own), wash hands frequently, and stay home if they are members of an at risk group or feeling unwell. We love you, but to ensure the safety and health of all, if you cannot follow social distance procedures, we will ask you to leave.
Can I bring my children to volunteer? No- there is simply too much risk to your young children, not only from COVID-19, but from moving vehicles, heavy boxes, etc. It is not safe for them and as an organization we cannot assume that responsibility.
How does the stay at home order affect ALIVE!? Are you still open? ALIVE! has several programs and locations. Our administrative staff are working remotely; our food warehouse is open, but only by appointment; our shelter residents are sheltered in place; our furniture and housewares programs are closed and our Child Development Center is closed. The Child Development Center Staff are working remotely, our emergency assistance volunteers are working remotely. We may not be able to answer phones or emails as quickly as we normally do. Thank you for your patience.
What’s your mask/gloves protocol? ALIVE! issues gloves to volunteers, but does not have masks available. Please bring your own, and also bring your own hand sanitizer. We are not always able to provide access to restrooms. Please follow guidelines provided by Volunteer Alexandria and as given for the job you sign up to do.
What’s the cleaning protocol at the warehouse (or bus barn)? We try to wipe down commonly used surfaces at the warehouse, but we do not have a regular cleaning crew. We highly encourage any volunteers to follow social distancing protocols, work deliberately, stick to their shifts and clean hands often.
I have food to bring? When and where can I bring it? Normally, we love you to bring food. Please DO NOT bring it now. With social distancing we have a limited number of volunteers to clean, sort and store food that you bring. We also do not want to expose you or others to virus or pull staff or volunteers away from other work. We are getting shipments of food in weekly at low cost that also need to be packaged and distributed. If you would like to do a virtual food drive, and raise funds for a donation, we appreciate that, as we can very effectively use those funds to purchase food for mass distribution. You can volunteer to deliver food for ALIVE! at Volunteer Alexandria.
I need food? How can get food? Please visit the Hunger Free Alexandria website www.hungerfreealexandria.com for a list of food pantries who are distributing food, or if you are an ACPS student please visit there. If you need benefits or financial help, please contact the City of Alexandria at 703-746-5700 for a referral, or information on how to enroll in public benefits.