Alexandrians Do Have Big Hearts

Frank Fannon stands beside the fire he had built earlier in the cold morning on Saturday in the former Coal yard parking lot on S. Henry Street. He has set up a table with hot coffee, donuts and cupcakes. Fannon has organized his 12th annual “Alexandrians Have a Heart” clothing and canned food drive. Frank’s cousin, Michael Fannon, is nearby helping with the event.

Fannon says he started this event 12 years ago because “basically there are a lot of people in need in Alexandria. It’s a great way to get the community to get together.” Fannon continues, “Alexandria is a community of haves and have nots, and it is getting worse.” He adds that 65 percent of the school kids in Alexandria qualify for reduced price or free school lunches.

Fannon explains today’s event will benefit three organizations: Christ House, ALIVE! Food Bank and Carpenter’s Shelter. “This morning a couple of suits were donated. They really like those at Christ House for the men to use in job interviews.”

He points to the pick up truck sitting in the parking lot. “We usually get three pickup trucks full of food and clothing. This one is almost full. We’re right on pace since it’s 11:15.” The drive is scheduled to end at 3:00 p.m.

“This year, we got something unusual.” He pulls out an envelope full of checks. “This is $2,500 in donations from the Commonwealth Republican Women’s Club of Alexandria. Wow. Look at this; it’s a check for $500 for Carpenter’s Shelter.”

Debbie Burns pulls up in the parking lot and heads to the truck with her large paper sack. She says it contains a North Face vest and Amy’s soups and pasta. “I work right over there so I come every year when I work on Saturday. I always like contributing to these events for the community, and I always support anything Frank does.” Burns has brought along her own thermos of coffee but says, “I’ll take a donut.”

Russell Southard drops off his donation. “I live over there. I come every year.”

Sunny O’Malley has been donating “whatever needs to go” for 12 years. “There is always something. Today it is shoes, shorts, shorts, casual clothes. I always have in the back of my head ‘we’ll save it for Frank.’” O’Malley heads for the donut table and picks out the last glazed donut in the box. “I only eat one of these a year.” As O’Malley gets back into her car, she calls back, “Don’t worry Frank, we’ll be back next year.”

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