The Donut Lady’s Legacy

Coco Rigoli, Staff Reporter

Arlington recently lost an important member of its community. Most knew her as Helena Metzger, but the Donaldson Run neighborhood fondly knew her as the Donut Lady. Metzger impacted countless lives in her community through her selfless actions. 

Metzger, born in 1934, lived to be 88. She and her husband Eugene Metzger enjoyed a long life together and had two children: Mary Rhodes and Bennett Metzger. 

After previously living in Annandale, Virginia, Metzger and her family moved into their house on North Vermont Street, in 1975. Metzger and her husband were the third owners of the house. 

“My parents bought [the house] from doctor Walter Woods. He was the second owner of the house, and the house was originally built by the Broyhill family; they have multiple houses throughout Arlington,” Rhodes said.

Even after passing, Metzger is still helping others. The charming house is now for sale. An avid Catholic, Metzger arranged for the money from the sale of the house to go to the Woodlawn Foundation, which is a branch of the Church. 

As well as supporting the Woodlawn Foundation, she was deeply involved with the Catholic Oakcrest School, where her daughter graduated from. Metzger served on several boards at the institution, including the board of trustees, and helped build the school’s reputation from the ground up.

“She was a big campaigner for the school and a big donor. She was one of the seven people with shovels when they broke ground on the property in Vienna,” Rhodes said. 

Supporting the Catholic church wasn’t the only thing she did for the Arlington Community. Many Arlingtonians know her as the Donut Lady, because she made a tradition of giving Halloween trick-or-treaters homemade donuts.

“She was known in the neighborhood, long before we got here, as the donut lady, because every year, she would give out about 200 donuts,” neighbor Laura Tramonte said.

Many wondered why she went above and beyond on this holiday. It may have been her love for kids or just her natural generosity. Her daughter saw her enthusiasm for halloween as both.

“She always felt that if anyone made the effort to climb up her driveway with the two steep hills, then they deserve something better than just a candy bar,” Rhodes said.

The donuts weren’t the only thing that Metzger did to make this night special for neighborhood kids—she also took special interest in their costumes.

“My mother wasn’t the one who just handed it out. You had to describe what your costume was, and half the time she didn’t know what they were, but she oozed love for these kids,” Rhodes said.

Metzger’s love for kids went further than just this Halloween tradition. She devoted herself to education as well.

“She definitely was an educator; she was an elementary school teacher till I was born, but it seems like she was a teacher all throughout her life,” Rhodes said. 

Rhodes loved her mom and had a close relationship with her. Recently, Rhodes has been shown how much Metzger meant to others as well. 

“I found her incredibly generous, and it didn’t mean money; it was from her heart. The only way I really know that, other than being her daughter, is that at her funeral, so many people came up to me and told me that she had impacted their life somehow,” Rhodes said.

Metzger was a caring neighbor and will be missed by them too. Tramonte knew and loved Metzger for 20 years.

“When we first moved in, Mrs. Metzger came to our house and knocked on the door and introduced herself. And being very neighborly she just said if you ever need anything, please let me know. Then, we realized that we had a lot in common,” Tramonte said. 

Though they weren’t the closest of friends, Kari Gray, Metzger’s neighbor of eight years, felt she could always turn to her if she needed something. 

“She was older and had far more experiences than myself and a lot of the neighbors around her, so she gave good insight,” Gray said. 

Halloween in the Donaldson Run neighborhood will never be the same, but the memory of the Donut Lady will carry on.