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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Make a difference in your community: Take part in VolunteerFest

Volunteers at the 2011 VolunteerFest
Oct. 27 is the day to give back to the community as hundreds of Northern Virginia residents will take part in the 18th annual VolunteerFest.

Whether you’d like to provide meals for the homeless, spruce up a library, or work outdoors removing invasive plants, VolunteerFest has a project for you.

The region-wide day of service, held in conjunction with national Make a Difference Day, brings together individuals, families, corporations, and civic groups for projects at parks, schools, and nonprofits. VolunteerFest is sponsored by Volunteer Fairfax, an organizations that matches individuals and corporations who want to serve the community with nonprofits that need help.

Several of the more than 40 projects participating in VolunteerFest are in the Annandale/Mason area:

•    The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services is seeking volunteers to help improve the Bailey’s Community Center in Falls Church.
•    People are needed to work on habitat restoration at J.E.B. Stuart Park.
•    The Fairfax County Park Authority’s Resource Management Division seeks volunteers to remove non-native, invasive plants from Annandale Community Park.

Last year, more than 1,000 people participated in volunteer projects across Fairfax County, says Jessica Hubbard, communications manager for Volunteer Fairfax. This year, VolunteerFest has been opened up to nonprofits across the Northern Virginia region.

Also new this year, Volunteer Fairfax made an effort to engage the public in the project selection for VolunteerFest by hosting a GoodMaker Challenge, says Hubbard. The challenge was to encourage nonprofits and government agencies to dream big, with the organization submitting the best proposal  receiving a grant of $500 and 50 volunteers to put their plan into action and make a difference in their community.

The winner is Aurora House, a nonprofit that operates a home for court-referred teenage girls in the City of Falls Church and addresses the issues that prevent girls from living with parents or family members.

The Aurora House project will take place Oct. 20 and will serve as the kickoff event for VolunteerFest. Volunteers are needed to revitalize the landscaping at Aurora House, expand the garden, dig a terraced garden on a natural slope for spring flowers, and cut back trees and bushes in the backyard.

To sign up for this project, or any VolunteerFest project, register online.

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