The Coronavirus is affecting each of us in some way. We are reshaping our daily routines and looking for ways we can help. Here are some great stories of love and hope that are happening now in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

How can you share some love to FXBG, and what examples have you seen of other people doing this? Please send your ideas and stories to us here. We will post them regularly, so check back often!

Rachael Ray adds MWHC nurse to ‘Nice List,’ facilitates huge donation to pantry

December 27, 2020

Stacy Mason, an ICU nurse at Mary Washington Hospital, noticed her fellow coworkers in the ICU found difficulty getting everyday products at the store during the pandemic. Because hospital employees work long hours, especially now more than ever, and many have families themselves, Mason created a “donate what you can, take what you need” pantry at the hospital early on in the pandemic. The effort initially received a lot of press nationally and internationally (we featured the article here on FXBG Love Local back in August!), but eventually the attention on the story dwindled. That is all until the “Rachael Ray” talk show reached out to the hospital wanting to feature Stacy Mason, as a way to celebrate heroes making a difference in their communities in the show’s “The Nice List” holiday segment. 

The episode featuring Stacy Mason’s Zoom interview with Rachael Ray aired on December 15, 2020.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, a sponsor of the show, gave a $10,000 donation as well as 1,000 units of their cleaning products to help Mason’s pantry efforts going.

To give financial support for the pantry, go online to, select “Donate Now” and complete the steps. Make sure in Step 1 to click the down arrow and choose Team Cupboard. To donate items and make arrangements for drop-off, email the MWHC Champions Team at [email protected].


Read the full story here.

Germanna to offer free training to people laid off due to pandemic

November 16, 2020

Germanna Community College has announced it is participating in a new initiative to provide free workforce training to those who have lost their jobs, or have had to accept a lower paying job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is called Re-Employing Virginians initiative, and is backed by $30 million in state CARES Act funding. When students enroll in any of the following training programs at Germanna: health care, information technology, skilled trades, public safety, or early childhood education, they are eligible to receive a scholarship. Full time students can receive up to $3,000 in scholarships, and part time students can receive up to $1,500 in scholarships.

Eligible participants must be Virginia residents, have filed for unemployment on or after Aug. 1 or be underemployed—meaning they have lost a full-time job due to COVID-19 and are now working part time and making less than $15 an hour—and be enrolled in one of the eligible fields.

“Virginians who have been furloughed, had hours reduced or lost a job because of the pandemic are struggling and wondering what the future holds,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release about the new initiative. “Investing in programs that help people develop skills in high-demand fields is a win for workers, employers and our economy.”

Germanna’s director of financial aid, Aaron Whitaker, said the community college is excited to offer the opportunity.


Read the full story here.

More information on the initiative is available here.

Fredericksburg battlefield, Washington Birthplace parks also seeing surge in visitors

October 27, 2020

Locals and tourists alike are finding new ways to spend their Fall free time during an age of social distancing. For many locals in particular, it means exploring in their own backyard. 

Luckily for us, Fredericksburg is home to two national parks: Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and George Washington Birthplace National Monument.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said John Hennessy, chief historian at the National Military Park. “We’ve been busier than normal during the pandemic, and that was especially true in the spring, when things were really locked down hard. We saw a lot of people coming out, a lot of people discovering the different parts of the park as a place of escape, refuge and solitude.” 

Hennessy specified Lee Drive and Chatham Manor as two locations that people have sought out as a place of magical quietude and peace. Many of these visitors have stated they had never visited such locations before the pandemic, even if they lived nearby. 

His advice to those who live in the area: Take advantage of the fact that within the park “is a beautiful landscape with a compelling story, a very human story.”

Read the full story here.

Rappahannock Regional YMCA receives grant for its Virtual Learning Centers

October 6, 2020

The Rappahannock Regional YMCA has recently received a $100,000 grant from the Rappahannock United Way to go towards sustaining their Virtual Learning Center Program. The program was instated during the emergence of COVID-19 as a way for students of working parents to combine virtual learning and child care during off-school hours. The Virtual Learning Center allows students to catch up on school work, get ahead in their classes, receive additional help, and even participate in physical education activities. The program extends to YMCA branches in Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline counties.

Helping children of working-parent families has always been a focus of the Rappahannock Regional YMCA, however when the beginnings of the pandemic struck, the urgency of helping students of front line and essential workers increased significantly. Since then, this program has been able to alleviate some stress that these working families face. “Parents have a little peace of mind to be able to go to work and earn a living without worrying about their kids’ education,” said Rappahannock United Way President Janel Donohue. “It’s a win–win all the way around.”

Read the full story here.

Local women find ways to help others amidst pandemic, cleaning a park and creating library

September 8, 2020

Local Lisa Hardin Strother walks along Lee Drive for 2 hours on her daily walk. For her, getting outside at some point in the day is essential during this age of social distancing. Strother states, “it was getting depressing being shut in all the time. The best thing to do is to get out to Mother Nature and get some exercise.” However on these daily walks, she began noticing a large accumulation of trash, especially after the weekend.
Instead of changing her route, Strother only prepared herself further for her Lee Drive walk by bringing along trash bags. “It’s such a beautiful space, and so many people have put time and money into making the park a beautiful place to go” says Strother, “it’s just a shame that those who throw trash out there don’t appreciate that.”
She now proudly describes herself as “the trash lady.”


Not too far away, Susanne Lazanov, who currently lives in the Falls Run active adult community, was also taking community matters into her own hands. The patrons of Falls Run frequent the nearby Howell Branch of the Central Rapphannock Regional Library due to its convenient location. Now because of COVID-19, the library is not fully available for lending books, so Lazanov created the ‘Falls Run Little Library’ that operates out of a rolling cart. It runs on book donations from residents and their family and friends. Satisfying the needs of her fellow book-lovers, Lazanov doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. She claims, “until the library again accepts donations for the monthly book sales, the next home for the leftovers, I hope to maintain the library, weather permitting.”

Read the full story here.

Fredericksburg’s annual Christmas parade to have COVID-19 twist

September 7, 2020

During a time where it seems that traditional events are being cancelled left and right, Fredericksburg’s beloved Christmas parade escapes the pattern. While it may look different this year, the annual Christmas parade will still take place, only reversed.

Similar to a drive-through Christmas light show, the parade will consists of in-place floats along Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard in Celebrate Virginia South, allowing visitors to drive by. It will safely bring a bit of Christmas cheer to the area as it does not require any public contact.

This year’s parade theme is “Light Up the Season.” Registration starts Sept. 10 for people and organizations wanting to enter a float, and the deadline will be Oct. 15 or until the 80-float limit is reached.

The Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department is the main point of contact for the parade. It can be reached at 540/372-1086 or at [email protected].


Read the full story here.

Community and businesses come together to fund mobile hotspots for Spotsylvania schools

August 31, 2020

The beginning of the 2020 school year can best be summed up with the phrase: virtual learning.

The Spotsylvania school system has already distrusted laptops to most of their 24,000 students. However, access to laptops are just one hurdle to overcome when making sure students are well equip for remote learning from home. Many students in the area do not have a stable or strong internet connection to connect them to online classes.

Starting in July, the school system began setting up mobile hotspots thanks to the help of a $17,452 donation from sPower, a solar energy company. The donation resulted in 16 additional internet hotspots.


Read the full story here.

Stafford agency brings thousands of meals to area schoolchildren, families

August 28, 2020

What began as a small scale food distribution service based out of veteran Tim White’s home, became a non-profit organization feeding over 15,0000 schoolchildren in just three years. Stafford Food Security targets 66 schools among Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Fredericksburg.The inspiration behind the project came from White’s own childhood, as he states, “I grew up hungry as a kid. I definitely know what it’s like not being able to eat.” 

The non-profit is backed by volunteers who pack over 200 backpack’s worth of completed meals for families of four. White says that most of his volunteers are local teachers who are able to identify families in need at school. 

Amidst the period of COVID-19, White was no longer able to use schools as meal drop-off points. Instead, he delivers meals door to door. Since he has made the change to a more direct delivery, he noticed certain areas are facing more difficulty during this time. “Instead of waiting for them to ask us for help,” said White, “I went out and bought a grill, and every Tuesday and Thursday, I go to a different neighborhood and grill for anyone who needs a meal.” 

Since the emergence of the pandemic in March, White and his non-profit have fed over 12,000 people. What’s next? White has his sights set on purchasing a food truck, to feed others in need.

Read the full story here.

Land of Promise church in Spotsylvania distributes boxes of fresh produce

August 10, 2020

Land of Promise, a local Spotsylvania Church, partnered with World Vision, a faith-based nonprofit that assists in communities affected by disaster across the world, to distribute free boxes of fresh produce every Saturday in August. World Vision, a non-profit fueled by 4.6 million volunteers worldwide, has made it their mission to provide fresh food assistance during the pandemic.

Alongside World Vision members, the local coalition is made up of church volunteers, nurses from Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, and students from Germanna Community College. 

Just last week, World Vision delivered 1,000 boxes of fresh apples, cabbages, carrots, honeydew, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchinis, and yams to Land of Promise, which was then distributed to drive-by vehicles and various organizations by volunteers.

Land of Promise’s founder and pastor, James King, commented, “We’re just trying to be a blessing to the community, whether you’re working or unemployed, middle class or working class. We’re just trying to show the community that we’re here and that having compassion means doing something.” 

Read the full story here.

Nurse is a Hometown Hero for creating ‘take-what-you-need’ pantry at Mary Washington Hospital

August 8, 2020

Distinguished as one of The Free Lance-Star’s Hometown Heroes, Stacy Mason has dedicated her time outside of being a front-line ICU nurse to organizing a ‘take what you need’ pantry. 

Since the emergence of COVID-19 in March, many of us have noticed the scarcity of basic supplies in stores. While working at Mary Washington Hospital, Stacy Mason overheard her coworkers’ concern for the lack items such as toilet paper, baby wipes, soap, and diapers. If a member of the staff saw one of those in-need products at the store, they would pick it up and bring it into work. It was the reaction of her fellow staff banding together that sparked her idea of providing a similar service for the greater community. 

The concept, Mason described, was similar to “a lending library at the Mary Washington and Stafford hospitals.” Donors grew from staff members to families, friends, and business partners with multiple donation drives across Fredericksburg. The project has grown to be featured on the hospital home page, fliers have been distributed, and an outpour of items, including fresh produce, have been brought into donation centers.

Her coworker and nominator, Michelle Lemke, reflected, “Anyone who is in need can take those items to ease their burden. She inspires other associates and community partners to donate to this noble cause. The mantra is, ‘Give what you can: take what you need.'” 

Read the full story here.

Fredericksburg kids enjoy hoops, music at Peace in da Paint community celebration

July 25, 2020

This year marked the eighth annual Peace in da Paint event at the W.L. Harris Playground in Mayfield. Due to COVID-19, the event, like many others this year, was close to being canceled. However, event organizers were determined to see it through with proper safety measures in place.

Peace in da Paint began eight years ago as a way to bring the community together through basketball. This year’s  games were played by children, high school players, and adults from 10 a.m to 4 p.m accompanied by music and game commentary from a local DJ.
Food trucks were lined up outside the playground as well as booths occupied by local businesses, religious services, and a voter registration table.

Upon entering the event, guests’ temperatures were taken, masks were worn, and a six feet distance between groups was encouraged.

With many traditions and events canceled or postponed, community unity is more vital than ever. Del. Joshua Cole attended the event and reflected, “I think the community needs something like this, with COVID and the protests going on.”

Read the full story here. 

Volunteers give Hurkamp park some love, clean up park

July 13, 2020

A coalition of volunteers from Germanna Nursing School, University of Mary Washington, local real estate agents, and other community groups came together to clean up Hurkamp Park. They call the event “Love Scrub”. The founder of Love Scrub, Chip Taylor explains the event as, “just what the name implies, it’s kind of cheesy with Love Scrub, but it kind of works and we’re just giving it some love.”

Taylor got the idea from noticing the poor conditions of downtown Fredericksburg’s parks. Since then, it has evolved to having a branded logo and large following.

Hurkamp Park was the second Love Scrub event, and was given a $3,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors to buy materials necessary for landscaping the two events: mulch, plants, etc. 

Donna Schmidt of the National Association of Realtors and Love Scrub volunteer commented, “We’re thankful, we’re thankful that we can do this and give back to the community. With everything that is going on right now, everybody- they’re all coming together to do something good and positive, and I think that’s what we need. If we can do that here and show some of that here, maybe i’ll spread the word and spread the love.”

The next Love Scrub event, according to Chip Taylor, may occur sometime in the fall.

Read the full story here. 

Volunteers host cleanup event to pick up trash along the Rappahannock

July 12, 2020

Volunteers from Fredericksburg Activists, Allies and Change, Leaders for Change, and The Melanin Cooperative banded together to tackle a Rappahannock River cleanup. All three groups operate under the same core belief of reinvesting into the local Fredericksburg community. Chanise Jackson, an event coordinator for FAAC stated, “The leaders of these organizations, a lot of our passions align and one of those things is making sure that the earth is here for our next generation.” 

After noticing the pollution along and in the river itself, the groups coordinated with each other to clean up the Rappahannock after the Fourth of July. The immense post-holiday trash was organized by what could and could not be recycled. 

Volunteers were able to come to the event as they pleased until 6:00 pm, but the efficiency of volunteers allowed the event to end at 3:00 pm. 

Read the full story here. 

Help celebrate Itty Bitty City’s 16th anniversary by joining the search

July 3, 2020

Amidst many spring and summer cancellations, there are still events/activities around the city that allow you to have fun while also social distancing. One of which is the 16th annual Itty Bitty City scavenger hunt! 

Search downtown Fredericksburg for 39 clues: zoomed in photos of items or architectural features in the downtown area. Photos were taken within the boundaries of Princess Anne and Caroline streets from Lafayette Boulevard to William Street;and the 500, 800, and 1000 blocks of Sophia Street.

Look for these photos in the cross streets of Princess Anne Street and Sophia Street, and Lafayette Boulevard and Lewis Street. Every clue is visible from the public right of way. 
For every clue you find, write what it is and where you found it to include on the Itty Bitty City entry form

Online entry forms are due by midnight on September 7 and physical entry forms are due by 5:00 pm on September 7 at the Free Lance-Star offices, 1340 Central Park Blvd, Suite 100.

Sign up for the Itty Bitty City newsletter here.

Read the full story here. 

FredNats to host drive-in July 4 fireworks display

June 29, 2020

Though traditional 4th of July festivities have been canceled in Fredericksburg this summer, the Fredericksburg Nationals stepped up to host a firework show that enables proper social distancing measures to be put in place.

The fireworks will be lit in the new Fredericksburg National Stadium near the Fredericksburg Expo Center at 9:30 pm on July 4th. The best visibility for the show would be near the vicinity of the Stadium/Expo Center for watchers in parked cars. When you’re there, you can tune into the Superhits 95.9 radio station beginning at 8:30 pm to listen to accompanying patriotic music.

For more information, visit the Facebook event page.


Read the full story here. 

Balcony-decorating contest a ray of sunshine during virus crisis

June 13, 2020

Property managers at the Culpepper Commons apartment complex have always prioritized interacting with their residents. However, since self quarantine became part of everyone’s daily routines, interactions became more difficult to pursue. That’s where their idea for a balcony decorating contest to honor first responders came to be. Property manager Lesley Brown stated, “so many are home in their apartments, and all the kids love to make things- it’s something they could do and be creative.” 

20 units in the complex participated, the winners, Pauline and LeRoy Menefee, received a $100 Visa gift card. The Menefee’s balcony was decorated in a patriotic theme with a poster that read, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  “I couldn’t believe we won,” said Pauline Menefee. “The whole experience sure brought a smile to my face.”

Read the full story here. 

James Monroe seniors get individual graduation ceremonies

June 11, 2020

The world is finding many ways to celebrate the Class of 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which limits gatherings to 10 people. At James Monroe High School, members of the Class of 2020 were meant to walk across the stage on May 15 as part of their traditional graduation ceremony. In order to still honor their graduating seniors, the administrators and teachers at James Monroe High School created their own unique form of graduation. 

Students signed up for a time slot during a 3 day period, in which they would be able to walk across the stage with their families watching. Immediate family members had access to priority seating, which enabled them to have the best view of their student receiving their diploma. Hand shakes were replaced with elbow bumps, and school administrators wore masks.

Principal Tim Duffy remarked the importance of celebrating his seniors, “We’re just thrilled to do this for our students. Each student gets individual attention. Things have gone so well.” 

According to, James Monroe High School will be posting a video featuring photographs from all their ceremonies on their Facebook page and Youtube Channel on June 20. 

Read the full story here.

Grandpa Tom, a WWII vet, strolls Culpeper streets to help Germanna students


May 27, 2020

Thomas Paul Feorene, better known to many as “Grandpa Tom”, is a 93 year old World War II Veteran, wanting to make a change for students.

Feorene has been walking around Germmana’s service region on his walker, while encouraging locals to donate to the Germanna Cares program. The program is aimed to serve students affected by COVID-19, have lost their job, or are in need of financial assistance to continue with their degree. His goal is to raise $30,000.

Bruce Davis, the assistant to the president for institutional advancement at Germanna puts it simply, “He takes a walk every day. He wants to use that walk as a way to raise money for the Germanna Cares program.”

Feorene is the son of an Italian immigrant, and not only sympathizes with, but understands the struggles of young people trying to gain an education and persevere during difficult times.

Feorene will be taking his walks in all eight of the localities Germanna serves: Culpepper, Madison, Orange, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline, and King George County as well as the city of Fredericksburg.

To donate and support the cause, visit or Germanna’s “Grandpa Tom” Facebook page. To see and hear more about Tom, watch his YouTube video, here:

The deadline for donations is Victory over Japan Day, aka VJ Day, which will be observed Sept. 2.

Read the full story, including Thomas Feorene’s involvement in World War II, here. 

“Hometown Hero” is making sewing machine repairs so others can make masks

May 23, 2020

In the Eagle Village Shopping Center lies A Stitch In Time, a sewing machine supply and repair shop. The owner, Greg Harding, has been selling and repairing sewing machines for over 40 years, but recently his services are in need more than ever. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, those with sewing machines have took to produce masks to sell or to donate to front line workers. To accomodate for the influx of customers, Greg and his wife Deanna have been working 12+ hour days, mostly repairing old machines customers didn’t even know they had. Some machines are harder to repair than others, and according to Greg, “You can be going along and doing well with different machines until you run into that one that doesn’t want to cooperate. That’s the kind you pull out hair on and put aside to come back to. Some nights we’ll be here until midnight or 1 a.m. trying to keep up.”

However, according to Greg and Deanna, the extra hours are worth it, knowing that their efforts are making a difference in the community. Greg sums up, “One customer, with family in Brazil, said they made more than 100 and sent them to those relatives. And another woman said she’d made more than 1,000 masks for others,” he said. “I feel a real responsibility to get these machines done so these customers can do these good things. If not, I’m standing in their way.”

Read the full story here. 

King George library ‘never missed a beat’ in getting books to readers

May 22, 2020

The L.E. Smoot Memorial Library in King George County transferred operations to curb side pickup only in mid March. Not only do they provide locals with books, but also tax forms, census information, and craft kits. Between March 17 and this Thursday, they have provided for over 913 pick up orders. 

Many local families have expressed their appreciation for a continued form of normalcy. Meredith Rinko, a mom of two young sons, has been able to maintain their tradition of bedtime stories. “When you’re at home, twiddling your thumbs and trying to figure out what to do, going outside with a book is always a good thing,” Rinko said.

The library, as well as other King George County offices, are taking an abundance of caution to protect the safety and health of their employees and the community. Employees are screened daily as they enter the office, and those with temperatures above 100 degrees aren sent home.

Read the full story here. 

Fredericksburg-area teens fundraising to purchase hand sanitizer for senior citizens and first responders

May 17, 2020

The Teen Enrichment Network is a local non-profit focused on bettering the community. When the COVID-19 outbreak began, their work became more important than ever. After noticing the constant lack of access to hand sanitizers and soap in stores, they decided to raise money to purchase hand sanitizer for local first responders, medical personnel, and senior citizens.

High school junior Virginia Finch leads the fundraising committee of 14 students that come from Massaponax, Chancellor, Spotsylvania, Riverbend, and James Monroe high schools.

Together, teens from the non-profit organized a fundraiser which launched on April 21. Their goal is to raise $8,000 to go towards purchasing a large supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. So far their fundraiser has raised $855.

If their goal is achieved, Finch plans to include a bottle of hand sanitizer with meal deliveries at Juan More Taco, where she volunteers three times a week.

She states that “everyone on the committee has something to do, and there’s a lot to be done. We’re getting this done through teamwork.”

You can donate to Teen Enrichment Network’s fundraiser at GoFundMe, their website or by mailing a check to 7124 Salem Fields Blvd., PMB 12, Fredericksburg, VA 22407-2509.

Read the full story here. 

Fredericksburg VA Mainstreet offers thanks with gift card giveaway

May 10, 2020

Fredericksburg VA Main Street, a business revitalization and support program, launched their FXBG Gratitude Gift Program this week. The program allows people the chance to win one of five $25 gift cards for downtown businesses each week for eight weeks.

Director Anne Glave stated, “we are looking for a way to say ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting our downtown businesses. That’s how the Gratitude Drawing came about for us. The community has been gracious in supporting our restaurants, retail, services, and our museums with donations and purchases of merchandise, food, drinks and gift cards over the last few weeks.”

How do you participate? Screenshot or take a picture of your receipts from local downtown businesses showing a purchase of $25 or more, and upload it to or send it in an email to [email protected] with “Gratitude” in the subject line.

Fredericksburg VA Mainstreet will draw five winners every Monday.

Read the full story here. 

Stafford couple, both educators, create mass mask manufacturing with printers in basement

May 2, 2020

Stafford couple Nathan and Meaghan Sekinger created a 3D printer farm in their home basement that produces hundreds of masks and face shields.

The idea began when Meaghan, a coordinator at the Training and Technical Assistance Center at George Mason University, saw a request on a donation website for a 3D “Montana Mask” for the Stafford Hospital. Meaghan claimed that their desire to help the community stemmed from their overwhelming sense of helplessness.

Nathan, a librarian at T. Benton Gayle Middle School in Stafford, was granted permission to bring home the school’s three 3D printers for mask production. Now, there are 12 3D printers in the Sekinger’s basement.

The printers “use strings of filament, a plant-based plastic polymer that is melted and applied layer by layer to create what’s being made.”

For the Sekingers, the hardest part of the process is obtaining the raw materials necessary to produce the masks, such as weather stripping for the edges and elastic for backs. However, once they vocalized the need for more materials via an Amazon wish list, friends, family, and co-workers began purchasing and delivering the materials.

The Sekingers have a special email address for medical personnel looking for PPE and anyone interested in helping: [email protected].

Read the full story here.

2020 grads celebrate with hopscotch game

May 1, 2020

Across the globe, people are finding creative ways to recognize the Class of 2020, who are not able to celebrate their scheduled graduations. Every night last week Spotsylvania schools lit up their stadiums at 8:20 pm, 20:20 in military time, to honor the Class of 2020.

Seniors at Riverbend High School visited their senior parking spots, which traditionally are decorated by students at the beginning of the year. Justin Guhl and his friends (while 6 feet apart) played hopscotch in his parking space Tuesday evening. Around 10:00 pm, they were still in the parking lot, catching up through the roofs of their cars. Guhl’s mom reflected, “they can’t make any long-term plans. So [this game] was a short-term plan he could make that hopefully brought him some happiness and closure.”

Read the full story here. 

UMW Theater production reimagines Dear Evan Hansen’s “Anybody Have a Map?”

April 28, 2020

Students from the University of Mary Washington’s theater department virtually recorded  “Anybody Have a Map?” from the hit broadway musical, Dear Evan Hansen. However, the lyrics sounded a little different from the original, as they were changed by Jon Reynolds, the theater department’s director of marketing and audience services, to reflect the shared experience of the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The song, which is originally about two mothers wondering how they can connect to their teenage sons, was transformed into a song about how to connect with anyone and everyone. The lyrics were approved by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the song’s creators. 

Students of the theater department express their gratitude for the opportunity to be able to work together to produce something meaningful. Senior Jess Elkins, a first-generation college student commented, “Everyone is craving art right now. The people in charge of our department are all doing their best to provide that for us, as well for the the people who miss seeing the work.”

The video has been shared several thousand times and was applauded by Broadway star Laura Benanti.

Read the full story here. 

Watch UMW’S performance of Anybody Have a Map? here.

UMW alumnus helps promote FXBG small business care package

April 27, 2020

University of Mary Washington alumni Riley West has always felt a strong connection to Fredericksburg’s small business community. During his time at UMW he frequented many staple downtown businesses: the Italian Station, Benny Vitali’s, and River Rock Outfitters.

After graduating, he began his own company, Blue Skye Media, that provides photography services to the real estate industry in the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, West felt grateful that his job was unaffected, but recognized the hot water the small brick and mortar businesses he loved so much were in.

West reached out to Dan Craddock, owner of the digital marketing company Metro Nova Creative, and in their own right a local downtown business on William Street.

Craddock designed the logo “I Love a Burg Biz” and partnered with two other local businesses: Illusions Wraps and Pressed for Ink, who created the logo on shirts and stickers.

These shirts and stickers make up a “small business care package” that is available for purchase. Proceeds from the sales go towards a $20 dollar gift card or meal from a local business.

Read the full story here. 

Purchase from the Burg Biz website here.

Vintage biplane flyover honors, thanks Fredericksburg-area medical staffs, first responders

April 22, 2020

On Wednesday afternoon, medical professionals and first responders at three major health care centers in the Fredericksburg region received a “high-flying thank you” as vintage aircrafts performed a synchronized flyover. 

The five vintage Stearman PT-17 biplanes flew under the call sign “COVID Flight” as they passed over Stafford Hospital at 1:45 p.m, Mary Washington Hospital at 2:05 pm, and finally Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center at 2:30 p.m. 

On the same day, members of a social media group, “MW Hospital Love Day” were also planning to celebrate and honor medical staff via a parade along Hospital Drive. Passengers showed their support by making encouraging signs and honking their horns as hospital staff stood outside and waved to the those passing by. 

Read the full story here. 

Watch the video of the parade, courtesy of Jim Gaston from the Economic Development & Tourism Office, here.

Meet the Crisis with a pint of hope

April 22, 2020

Fredericksburg’s department of Economic Development and Tourism has adapted their Fredericksburg Area Beer Trail to fit the needs and standards of social distancing. 

The Beer Trail has gone virtual, replacing the passport with a Brew Thru game card. The game card has 9 spots for all 9 of Fredericksburg Beer Trail breweries. Participants can download or screenshot the game card from the website,, and mark off every time they order pick-up or delivery from one the breweries, as well as snap a picture of them enjoying their order/their receipt.

Those who order from 5 or more breweries by May 31 will be able to enter to win gift cards or brewery merchandise by submitting their completed card to the FAB Trail Facebook.

The nine participating breweries include 6 Bears & A Goat Brewing Company, 1781 Brewing Co., Maltese Brewing Co., Barley Naked, Highmark Brewery, Strangeways Brewing, Red Dragon, Adventure Brewing, and Spencer Devon Brewing. 

Many of these breweries have running promotions, such as Spencer Devon’s “dealers pack”: for $10 they will select four different beers available for pick up or delivery. 

Despite the promotions, local breweries are struggling to stay afloat. If you have the ability to help support local businesses in the community, consider ordering from one or any of the nine breweries on the trail. All ordering details are available at 

Read the full story here. 

‘Hometown Heroes’ painting free murals to help Fredericksburg’s Sunken Well Tavern

April 21, 2020

Three local artists, Bill Harris, Gabriel Pons, and his son, Diego Pons, were commissioned to paint a series of murals at Sunken Well Tavern for free.

The idea came from Steve Cameli of Sunken Well Tavern, who thought it would be a beneficial way to attract more attention to the restaurant during a time of take-out only business. By creating a bright and beautiful mural, it would help Sunken Well stand out, as well as bring positivity to downtown Fredericksburg.

The results are two 70 by 70 inch pieces of wood, painted over with rain-resistant paint, that will hang over the restaurant’s large front windows. Both paintings (one by Harris and the other by Pons and his son) showcase Sunken Well’s iconic burgers. Pons commented, “We’re happy to help out by doing this mural, which at the same time keeps the arts community in the public eye. It’s also been a nice thing for my son and I to have something to work on together.”

Read the full story here.

UMW professor’s online support group goes global

April 18, 2020

Associate professor John Broome in the College of Education is well known by the entire University of Mary Washington community. However as of recently, he is known by a global community for a Facebook group he created that shares tips and tricks for virtual teaching.

Broome create the page, Higher Ed Learning Collective, on March 11, 2020, the day before the University of Mary Washington announced all physical classes would take place exclusively online due to COVID-19. By the end of the day on March 11, Broome’s page had over 3,000 users join his group. At present, the Higher Ed Learning Collective has over 25,000 members in more than 100 countries. Members also share their remote teaching tips, which has accumulated to over 400,000 posts, comments, and reactions. Together the community addresses the challenges students are facing during this time of online learning, and work together to make education more accessible.

Professor Broome’s page has received publicity not only from other teachers, librarians, deans, and provosts across the world, but also national publications and global organizations such as UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Read the full story here. 

Rapphannock YMCA raises $100,000 to offer free child care to first responders

April 16, 2020

As a caretaker of five children, one of her own and four of her brother’s, Brittanie Newbold was at a loss when social distancing measures were put into place and she was no longer able to utilize before/after school care or her nanny.

Newbold is a patient services manager at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center and her work is needed now more than ever. Last week she discovered the Rappahannock Area YMCA child care program that offers care for health care workers and first responders.

According to Newbold, “As an essential employee, [the Y is] allowing me to serve others without worrying about my children. Their staff is providing a fun and safe environment for our kids. During this time, the support of our community allows me to continue to provide excellent care for others in need. I’m extremely grateful for the YMCA and our community coming together to help support us.”

Michael Turner, the soon-to-be member of the Rappahannock Area YMCA board of directors, reached out to local businesses last week to donate to the program. Within three hours, $33,000 was donated. The YMCA program cost was covered by a fundraising drive that totaled in $100,000, allowing it to be free for parents. 

Read the full story here. 


April 12, 2020

When typical Easter festivities and services seemed to be put on hold this year, Rev. Ernest Custalow, a pastor of Grace Church of Fredericksburg, organized Easter Sunday service at an unlikely location: the Dominion Raceway in Thornburg.

Rev. Custalow and Steve Britt, the owner of the racetrack, worked together to organize the event in two weeks, resulting in 200 cars registered to attend the service. Attendees parked their cars in rows along the raceway to watch and listen to Rev. Custalow preach his Easter service and listen to the band. A large screen behind their stage made the service visible to cars, despite how far they parked.

At the end of the service, Rev. Custalow waved goodbye as people drove off to enjoy the rest of their Easter.


Read the full story here.


Those with sewing and quilting talents continue answer call for masks, some for the public

April 5, 2020

The CDC has recently advised that all Americans should wear masks in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, before the official announcement, many sewers and quilters were already making masks for front-line and essential workers with materials they had in their homes.

Trisha Cooper has been a quilter for 19 years and runs her own business, Creations by Trish, in Louisa County. Using the elastic and fabric she had in her home- she created an assembly line to produce masks for people who request them on her Facebook page. 

Most are people who want to feel safe leaving their homes, but she is also donating masks to hospitals and businesses. Right now Cooper is making them free of charge but is accepting donations in order to make more. She has already sent 82 masks and has 77 pending orders. 

Lisa Henry, the director marketing and communications for Mary Washington Healthcare announced a “5,000 Mask Challenge” where over 1,600 masks have already been donated by people like Trisha Cooper. The goal of this challenge is to provide masks to all 6,500 workers in the Mary Washington Healthcare organization.

If you are thinking of donating to the challenge, the hospital is advocating for more surgical-style masks. You can find information on how to donate and instructions on making masks here.

Read the full story here.


Parisian proposal, a la Market Square with chalked landmarks, gets city couple Krasinski fame

April 4, 2020

Like many others across the world, Fredericksburg couple Erika Diffendall and Luke McClung had to cancel their travel plans due to the Coronavirus. However, this was not suppose to be just any vacation; McClung had been planning to propose to his girlfriend of four years during their trip to Paris. McClung, a graphic designer, decided to use his skills to improvise his proposal by bringing a little bit of Paris to downtown Fredericksburg.

Using chalk and a ladder, McClung and his brother recreated scenes of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe on an alley wall in Market Square. They placed a half circle of roses on the ground, the spot where McClung would go down on one knee. Later, he asked Diffendall to go on a walk with him, a walk that changed their lives forever.

After the celebration of telling their friends and family, Diffendall sent her story to The Office and Jack Ryan actor, John Krasinski, who has been hosting a show on his YouTube Channel, Some Good News. To everyone’s surprise: he read their story and featured it on the show.

Read the full story here.

Watch their Some Good News episode here.

Fredericksburg-area teachers try to stay connected to their students

March 31, 2020

On March 23, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued that all Virginia schools will close for the remainder of the year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Schools had already been closed under temporary notice since March 13, and many did not know that would be their last day of classes. As a result, teachers and students have found creative ways to stay connected during a time of social distancing.

At Lewis and Clark Elementary School in Caroline County, teachers and staff members partook in a car parade through county neighborhoods to see their students. The parade totaled at 75 cars as students stood in front of their houses with signs reading messages such as “Thank you for helping us learn.”

Teachers at Courtland and Chancellor High School and Battlefield Middle School in Spotsylvania County have been recording video messages for their students to watch at home.

Hugh Mercer Elementary School in Fredericksburg has been engaging with students on their Facebook page, where students are encouraged to post weekly. Last week the Facebook page ‘hosted’ a virtual pet parade as students uploaded photos of their pets at home.

Some teachers at schools such as Riverview Elementary in Spotsylvania County and Kate Waller Barrett Elementary in Stafford County are sending letters and cards in the mail to their students, some with pre-stamped postcards allowing students to write back.

The bond between teachers and students is a special one, and the trends of creative communication across the country have proved physical school or not, teachers care for their students year-round.

Read the full story here.


Juan More Taco Owner Delivering Hundreds of Free Meals to Senior and Healthcare Workers 

March 30, 2020

As Juan more Taco in downtown Fredericksburg made the transition to carry-out and delivery only, they also started delivering free food to the elderly and healthcare workers and hospitals in the area The idea came directly from the owner, Maria Martin, who announced her plan on Juan More Taco’s Facebook page. There was an outpour of support in response: customers donated money, some as much as $1,000, others volunteered to help deliver food, and several Girl Scout Troops donated boxes of cookies to be delivered with orders. 

It is reported that volunteers and employees are delivering 30 free meals a day, and have no plans to stop donating and delivering food. 

Interested in helping Juan More Taco? Visit their Facebook page here.

Read the full story here.


Coronavirus cancels party for birthday boy, but neighbors put on a parade instead

March 30, 2020

After his birthday party was canceled, six year old Gleason Durham was surprised by his Embrey Mill neighborhood with a birthday parade and decorations in his front yard. Instead of his planned bounce house, cake, and friends from school celebrating at his house, Gleason’s neighbors and friends drove down his street with music, balloons, happy birthday signs, and small gifts.

Read the full story here.

A. Smith Bowman Distillery crafting sanitizing solutions

March 29, 2020

A. Smith Bowman Distillery is nationally known for having one of America’s best non-Kentucky single barrel bourbon. They recently won double-gold honors at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, but despite their winnings, liquor production as paused to make room for producing hand and surface sanitizer. Amidst the global shortage of sanitizer due to COVID-19, the Distillery saw an opportunity to help their community, as they already had the equipment, staff, formula, and ingredients necessary to create sanitizer. It consists of a mixture of ethanol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and water which is in accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization.

Priority is being given to front line medical workers and fire and law enforcement. A. Smith Bowman has already begun delivering to “Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, and other local organizations that have requested help.”

If you or your organization are in need of hand and surface sanitizer, you can fill out the sign up sheet on A. Smith Bowman’s Facebook page.

Read the full story here. 

Bloomia to brighten Fredericksburg with free tulips Saturday

March 26, 2020

Bloomia, a King George wholesale tulip grower, has donated 350,000 tulips to be delivered to local restaurants and shops that have begun carry-out and pick up business only. In addition, they have delivered to local hospitals, nursing homes, and other front line workers. Bloomia’s manger, Werner Jansen commented, “Fredericksburg is so close to us, and right now we all can use some happiness in this unstable situation with the coronavirus. It’s good to spread some happiness, and also our company got hit by the virus with a lot of cancellations.”

Operation Tulip Drop, spearheaded by Bloomia and Main Street on Saturday, was a success, as locals drove to pick up stations, such as the Renwick Courthouse, to receive free tulips to take home.

Read the full story here.