The Crystal City Business Improvement District is launching a new ‘Hometown Heroes‘ program, aimed at honoring those who go above and beyond to help their neighbors through the coronavirus pandemic. The BID will recognize a new recipient each week.

On Monday, ABC7 got to meet the first two ‘Hometown Heroes’. Carol Fuller and Luis Castellanos will share the special honor, after teaming up to coordinate a weekly food drive that benefits the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the families it serves.

“The demand has gotten so much higher because so many people are out of work and might not ever have turned to AFAC and need assistance, and now they need it,” said Fuller, who is president of the Crystal City Civic Association.

To meet that increasing need, she and Castellanos first reached out to condo and apartment buildings throughout Crystal City. Through that partnership, they were able to set up donation drop off sites at ten different locations.

“It’s very cool because it’s a box in the lobby of each building, and so the people who live there, they can see the box and access the box to donate,” said Castellanos. “The first week it was 200 pounds of food, and the second week it was 400 pounds.”

Castellanos works for a company called Flare, whose electric shuttle service is currently sidelined due to COVID-19. But Castellanos is able to use one of the Flare vehicles to collect the canned goods left inside each donation box and then deliver them to AFAC.

“It’s just great to help the community, and to help all Arlingtontonians,” he said. “It’s a great, great feeling.”

Fuller also applauded Flare for stepping up to help.

“Flare can’t work, they can’t earn money, they can’t do rides, but they have become a really important part of the community,” she said. “It’s all about joining forces, because you can multiply your efforts that way.”

Still, Castellanos and Fuller said they were both surprised to learn they’d been named the first recipients of the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s ‘Hometown Heroes’ honor.

“I don’t feel like a hero! I just feel like we’re doing what we need to do. And if I’m in need, I would want someone to do that for me,” said Fuller.

Castellanos’ reaction was nearly identical.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular guy doing my job,” he said. “And I hope there will be a lot of other heroes that come through in this pandemic. I know there will be.”

For the full list of donation box locations for the food drive, click here. Once the pandemic is over and social distancing guidelines are lifted, the apartment or condo building with the highest volume of donations will be awarded with a pizza party.

“Every day we are inspired by another story about a local business or individual stepping up to help their neighbors during this time of crisis,” the Crystal City Business Improvement District wrote on its website. “The Crystal City BID is proud to be a part of such a selfless and giving community. We’d like to recognize those people who are going above and beyond and thank them with a small token of our appreciation.”

The BID will announce a new ‘Hometown Hero’ every Friday. The winner and the person who nominates them will each receive a $25 gift card to a local restaurant of their choosing.

To nominate a ‘Hometown Hero’ in Crystal City, click here.

Heather Graf

Heather Graf

Storyteller. Reporter @ABC7News in DC. Emmy & Murrow award winner. Carolina Girl. Story idea? Email me at hgraf@wjla.com.

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