All News & Blogs
Programs to give Christmas to needy children already ramping up in this region
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
By Rob Hedelt
THOUGH a warm fall and a monster hurricane have made Christmas the last thing many are thinking about, programs that help the needy over the holidays are already at work.
This Saturday, the local Red Cross Letters to Santa program begins getting 620 local children "adopted" by folks who serve as Santa Claus for the needy youngsters. The first opportunity comes at Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Spotsylvania Towne Centre.
The adoptions will continue Monday at the Red Cross Chapter Office in the Southpoint shopping center, and continue there through Nov. 21.
This past Sunday, the area's Quantico-based Toys for Tots campaign held an event at Paul's Bakery in Fredericksburg that featured everything from an impressive haunted bakery tour to a cupcake walk and Halloween train rides.
With boxes out to take donations of toys for the campaign, the event was one of more than 125 special activities designed to spur donations to Toys for Tots in the region.
The need is as great as or greater than last year's--when the campaign powered by Marine Corps and community volunteers provided 158,000 toys to 79,000 children. "We need more volunteers and we need to get busy," said Wilma Vaughn, a community relations officer at the Quantico Marine Corps Base who helps with its Toys for Tots program.
Petra Maille and Christy Ellis, who oversee the longtime Red Cross Santa program, said the difficulty helping all the 700 needy youngsters they had last year has led them to cut back slightly this season. They don't want to face the possibility of children not getting help, Maille said.
"We have lost some of the big donations we had in earlier years," she said. "The staff and I ended up shopping for 50 or so children who didn't get adopted last year, but we'd rather not go through that again this year."
The Red Cross program is one of many that help area children and families at Christmas, joining the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, Toys for Tots and efforts managed by the services agencies of most area localities.
Adoption at Red Cross Offices: Starts Monday in the office at 4836 Southpoint Parkway and runs through Nov. 21. Call 735-0502 for times and other details. Other adopting sites: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at Porter Branch library in Stafford and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at Salem Church library. Find drop-off sites, donate, learn about local events or sign up to volunteer at toysfortots.org, or call 571/285-3976.