As winter storm Jonas approaches, residents of the northeast — especially Washington, D.C., where snowfall could reach two feet — are preparing to hunker down for the weekend.
A number of states and cities have announced states of emergency in advance of the storm, including Washington, D.C., Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina. Parts of the New York tristate area are under a blizzard watch. And after Wednesday night, when D.C.’s one-inch snowtastrophe resulted in at least 1,000 reported accidents, 8-hour commutes and cars abandoned on freeways, residents of the beltway aren’t likely to leave their homes if possible.
But if you live in the D.C. area and are looking for ways to help as the snow falls, you have plenty of options. Many people in the area remain homeless and in need of food and clothing during the storm, along with elderly and disabled residents who will need help digging out. Volunteer your time with these activities.
1. Join a giant snowball fight — for a cause.
Go enjoy the storm with a snowball fight with friends in Dupont Circle or Columbia Heights on Sunday. Then grab a shovel and join the 2,000 residents who have already volunteered to shovel neighborhood sidewalks. Serve DC, a program sponsored by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the DC Snowball Fight Association are leading the charge.
2. Keep an eye out for people without shelter.
Keep the following numbers nearby in case you see someone in need of shelter from the storm:
If you are in Washington, D.C., you can reach the shelter hotline at (800) 535-7252 to get access to a network of shelters. LGBTQ youth in particular can request to stay at Casa Ruby.
In Maryland, you can call Prince George’s County Shelter Hotline (888) 731-0999 or Montgomery Country’s crisis hotline at (240) 777-4000.
Arlington County, Virginia provides emergency winter shelter, which you can reach at (703) 228-7802. If you see someone on the street in Arlington, police will pick them up if you call the non-emergency number (703) 558-2222 and provide their location. Virginia’s Fairfax County also has multiple shelter locations, and you can reach their non-emergency number at (703) 691-2131.
In Alexandria, Virginia, you could call the police’s non-emergency number at (703) 746-4444 and they will transport anyone in need to Alexandria’s winter hypothermia shelter at 930 North Henry St.
3. Donate clothing and other items.
The following locations are available for you to drop off clothes, non-perishables, and toiletries:
In northwest Washington, D.C., Central Union Mission at 65 Massachusetts Ave, NW, and the Community for Creative Non-Violence, located at 425 2nd St. NW, are open for donations 24 hours a day. The Catholic Charities’ New York Avenue Men’s Shelter at 1355 New York Ave NE is also open 24 hours for donations.
A-SPAN Shelter in Arlington, Virginia, is open 24 hours a day all weekend for donations at 2020-A 14th Street N.
If you have items after the storm passes, Alexandria Community Shelter at 8407 Richmond Hwy, in Alexandria, Virginia, will open for donations at 8 a.m. Monday.
4. Pitch in serving and delivering food.
Martha’s Table will accept volunteers to distribute food throughout the weekend at 2114 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. You could also volunteer to cook at DC Central Kitchen at 425 2nd St NW, in Washington, D.C. anytime this weekend. DC Central Kitchen also accepts food donations from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday, and next Wednesday, you could also volunteer to help serve as part of their Freezing Nights program, a venture between them and DC Catholic Charities.
Corinne Segal contributed reporting.