Christmas at the Virginia Peninsula Corps

Christmas at the Virginia Peninsula Corps

As with the majority of our corps community centers around the territory, Christmas distribution brings its own challenges as space to receive, sort and distribute much-needed resources in our communities is at a premium.

The Virginia Peninsula Corps (formerly known as Hampton, Virginia Corps) thought its Christmas warehouse space was settled with unused retail space acquired at a reasonable rent. This had been the third property in a search since June that was made available. Imagine the nightmare of receiving a phone call from the realtor stating the property was no longer available – 3 WEEKS before the property would be needed.

In the words of newly appointed Corps Officers Lt. Michael and Captain Malaika Good. “We have hunkered down in our corps building for this busy season, in spite of all the opposition. We have an incredible staff, volunteers and of course our donors who have surrounded us and we are all doing our best to provide Christmas for the community of the Virginia Peninsula.”

The Chapel serves as the Worship Center, mid-week gathering place and the meeting room for the bell ringers. Classrooms and the gymnasium have become the staging area for Angel Tree, food distribution and everything else Christmas. 5000 children will be served including 100 refugee families from Syria, Iraq and Iran and 50 families who were dispersed from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The Virginia Peninsula Corps is in the #FightForGood.

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Toy Depot

The Christmas Spirit of Giving Is Alive

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Christmas Depot

A wonderland of toys is tucked away in this former department store in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Moms and dads from all over the area came to fill their carts with presents to go under the tree.  Major James Allison of the Salvation Army said, “Through the Christmas Depot we are able to show, that there is a loving God; that there is a Christ who loves them. That the Christmas spirit of giving is alive and well in Hampton Roads. And their children, who they thought would not have very much for Christmas, will have an abundance of gifts for Christmas.”

In this week-long event, the Salvation Army worked alongside the United States Marine Corps, Toys For Tots, and Operation Blessing, to help parents struggling to provide gifts for their children. Toys for Tots representative, Gunny Sergeant Julio Muniz explained, “Sometimes less fortunate children don’t get the opportunity to get toys, their parents probably have a circumstance where they can not give them that and we want to make sure that every child in America has a Christmas. The biggest peace for me is seeing that parent that’s appreciative and the tears, the water-works, you know and how grateful they are with us, it definitely pays off.”

As vice-president of Operation Blessing’s disaster relief programs, Jody Gettys understands what coming to the Christmas Depot means to these parents. She said, “For us at CBN and for me as a mom to be able to be part of something that gives back in such a huge way to make Christmas possible for families for mothers for single dads for couples right here at home means everything.”

Karen Stevens is a mother of three.  This past year her husband was laid off from work and his unemployment recently ran out. She didn’t expect much to be under the tree this year.  But today, that all changed. She said,  “We went from making, I mean he was making 30 dollars an hour to zero for a family of five. It means a lot that my kids wake up Christmas morning and have something to open because without it I don’t know what we would have did.”

Major Allison went on to say, “We pray that as your children open those gifts on Christmas day that they will understand and realize in the opening of those presents just how much God has opened his heart and his love to all mankind so that whosover will, may be saved.”  And Jody Gettys said, “even this morning I was walking into the building and I passed a mom, looked like a single mom she was all by herself. And I saw the smile on her face as she rolled that grocery cart out full of brand new toys, not used toys but brand new toys. And I couldn’t help but think about the dignity she had now as a single mom or as a mom to be able to hand those gifts to her children. They’re not going to know they were a hand-out they’re going to know that mom was able to give us Christmas. Santa Clause came.”

And after they finished filling their carts with gifts, everyone received a full bag of groceries from Operation Blessing. Jody Gettys explained, “The Salvation Army has asked us to provide food for 5000 families. So behind me you see bags of groceries filled with everything for Christmas dinner so that these families can enjoy not only giving Christmas to their kids but sitting around the table enjoying a Christmas lunch or dinner together.” Karen Stevens was very grateful, “I’m absolutely very thankful, very thankful to everybody and anyone who was able to help and donate it is a true blessing.”

Jody Gettys concluded, “We couldn’t do what we do at CBN around the world and right here at home if it wasn’t for the benevolence of our partners. So for those of you who are part of the CBN family, thank you so much because we couldn’t make Christmas possible if it wasn’t for your generosity, your love and your support.”



Salvation Army ensures kids in need don't go without for the holidays

Salvation Army ensures kids in need don’t go without for the holidays

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — Thousands of Hampton Roads kids in need are getting some special gifts. The Salvation Army is making sure kids don’t go without this holiday season. Thursday kicked off their Christmas Depot distribution in Virginia Beach.

“Just amazing that people that don’t know you and what you’re going through, and just have the big heart to buy for your kids. It’s just great,” said Christine Cain.

The Salvation Army told 13NewsNow more than 8,000 kids are getting gifts. They get everything from clothes collected through Angel Tree, to toys and food. Not only are families grateful, so are volunteers.

“It’s just gratifying to see everybody come through and the happiness and joy that we can bring.” said one volunteer.

The distribution center will also be open Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 18-20 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 1 to 4 p.m.

Central Virginia Salvation Army

Central Virginia Salvation Army Distributes Thousands of Toys


You could feel the Christmas spirit at the Central Virginia Salvation Army Distribution Center on Monday as hundreds of families collected toys and clothing for the holiday season.

It was all through the Salvation Army Christmas distribution and Angel Tree program.

Renee Jackson shopped for her three boys – it was her second year picking up Christmas presents through the Salvation Army program.

“I love this place, it’s good,” Jackson said. “Just for the extra help. Sometimes bills get in the way and stuff like that and you can’t always get them everything they need, so this place paves the way for you to get a little extra stuff for the kids who need it.”

The Salvation Army has collected for over 5,000 children in the Richmond region. Those children will receive things such as coats, clothing, stockings, toys and some will even get a bike.

“Really the idea was to allow families not to worry about the stresses to financially provide and to go out and purchase clothing and toys for their children that would put them further behind in paying their bills perhaps,” said Donald Dohmann, area commander for the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army isn’t just collecting items like toys and clothes for children, they also collected items for senior citizens in the area.

“We have about 800 of those that will be receiving gifts come Thursday,” Dohmann said.

The distribution will go from through Thursday, Dec. 14 at at  6807 Midlothian Turnpike.

Toy Convoy

Toy Convoy benefits local children in need

The Toy Convoy is an initiative taken on by WHSV and The Salvation Army to provide thousands of children with various items, including bicycles, winter coats, food and toys for the holidays.

2017 will mark the 21st year that the annual Toy Convoy will benefit the children living in Harrisonburg, Waynesboro, Elkton, Dayton and Staunton.

Ashley Gordon-Becker, director of development for The Salvation Army in Harrisonburg, was born and raised in the local community. She emphasizes how the success of the Toy Convoy comes from the teamwork displayed by the individuals and businesses in the area.

“We are a very giving and philanthropic community,” Gordon-Becker said. “Seeing all of these businesses and members of the community come together to provide Christmas for the children that would not have Christmas otherwise — it’s heartwarming.”

Mountain Valley Burger King, Harrisonburg Auto Mall and Walmart are also joining forces this year to collect toys, clothes and monetary donations for local children and their families.

For over two decades, the surrounding communities of the Valley have come together to benefit the low-income families who don’t have the necessary resources to provide their children with a holiday meal or presents for underneath the Christmas tree.

In order to provide enough food for each family, The Salvation Army needed to receive 1,300 turkeys and chickens from the local community. They almost met their goal by being able to feed 600 families for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

“Seeing those families come in, knowing that they would not have had a meal if it wasn’t for the generosity of the community, hits hard, especially because most of us are very fortunate,” Gordon-Becker said.

The Toy Convoy requires months of planning and collaboration from WHSV and the local communities. Tina Wood, the operations manager at WHSV, has been a part of this tradition ever since it began 21 years ago.

“I love the way the community comes together,” Wood said. “The most memorable thing is that you sit there and you watch this trailer fill up with toys — it just makes it all worthwhile.”

During the first week in October, families apply to become a part of The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree by providing proof of income, expenses and number of people living in the household. The Angel Tree allows the children from those families to put five wishes on the tree. These wishes could be anything from a board game or favorite toy to a pair of shoes or winter scarf.

Most of the time, all five wishes are provided, but sometimes holes are left on the tree where a child’s wish wasn’t granted. With Toy Convoy, those holes are filled by the donations collected across the Valley and given out on distribution day. This year, families can pick up these toys Dec. 15 at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.

Kim Wentz, regional resource development director for The Salvation Army, has been involved with distribution day for the past 17 years. She continues to be amazed at the surprising generosity she experiences by locals who aren’t familiar with the program.

“I was in Waynesboro two years ago when this gentleman walked up and asked what we were doing,” Wentz said. “He came back and had purchased five bicycles — it gives you chills.”

Thousands of children benefit and depend on the Toy Convoy each year. Alone, there are 1,401 children from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. There are also 348 children from Staunton, 650 from Augusta County and 356 from Waynesboro who’ll now have presents to open on Christmas morning.

“It allows them to be just like everyone else,” Wood said. “I believe that every child wants to believe in Santa Claus, and this gives them the opportunity to continue to believe.”

Salvation Army bell ringer gives back after being homeless

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – It’s the signature sound that the holidays are in full swing: “Thank you, God bless you, Merry Christmas.”

The Salvation Army Bell ringers are out, and one in particular knows how important it is to give back.

Less than a year ago, Glen Dias was homeless with no home and no job.

Salvation Army worker A.C. Corpus remembers Glen walking into the men’s shelter in Norfolk.

“He came into the shelter needing our assistance with housing and other needs and we by the grace of God were able to help him with those needs and look where he is now,” Corpus said.

Now, he his own place to live and he has a job as a bell ringer.  Even though he gets paid to be here, he still volunteers for the Salvation Army. He even volunteered this Thanksgiving serving hot meals at the shelter.

“Glen! Hi, I’m Beverly from Channel 3. How’s business today? Picking up a little bit,” said News 3’s Beverly Kidd.

Even though he saw our camera, Glen still had no idea why we were really here at the Walmart in Virginia Beach.

“You are doing such an awesome job, and News 3 would like to give you a People Taking Action award. Congratulations!” said Kidd.

Fighting back tears, Glen shared how grateful he is to the Salvation Army, specifically the shelter director A.C., who pushed him to stick with the program.

“And sometimes, believe me, I wanted to give up,” Glen said.

“We have heard all about you and apparently you are one of the special bell ringers and everyone likes to have you in front of their store,” said Kidd.  “So our partner Southern Bank would like to give you a $300 gift card! Thank you.”

Even though he makes just above minimum wage and has to stand for long hours at a time in all kinds of weather, Glen said he loves his job.

“I love it. If it was for a thousand days, I’d do it. Really? It’s for the kids,” he said.

What he’s learned about people is that they are inherently kind.

“If it’s cold, the older people come up and give me hot chocolate and it means a lot sometimes, because I might not have it and some people really care and I appreciate it,” he said.  Full Article…

Salvation Army Hampton Roads

Urgent help needed for Hampton Roads Salvation Army Angel Tree

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — The Salvation Army is facing a big shortfall in its Angel Tree program after a group dropped off about 100 gift tags without the presents that were supposed to accompany the tags.

The Angel Tree program serves thousands of families on the Southside each year. People normally take tags from trees that are placed across the area, purchase the clothing items listed on the tags, then return the tags with the items so the Salvation Army can distribute them.

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command is letting people know about the issue in an effort to make sure that more than one hundred children will not go without gifts this Christmas.

A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said there may be an additional 100 tags that people took but did not return with clothing items.

The organization specifically is in need of clothing donations (shoes, jackets, outfits, etc.) of all sizes, but are in most desperate need of boys and girls sizes 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16 (as well as shoes for ages 8-11)

Donations can be brought to the old Christmas Depot at 1205 Fordham Drive in Virginia Beach.

Salvation Army members are scheduled to begin distributing the gifts next week, so they will accept donations until Saturday at noon.

If anyone is unable to bring physical donations, monetary donations are also accepted on the Salvation Army’s website.

The command’s main number is (757) 543.8100.

Musicians hope to help keep doors of Salvation Army homeless men’s shelter open


In two weeks, the doors of The Olde Towne Civic Center in Petersburg will be open for a night of music for a fundraiser to save the Salvation Army Homeless Men’s Shelter on Commerce Street.

The shelter has been open since 1997, but the Salvation Army says the costs are too high to exclusively run the shelter, so officials plan to close the doors on Dec. 31.

“We’re worried about keeping power on for these people,” said Todd Mobley.

Mobley is a blues musician from Chester, but considers Petersburg home because he frequently plays there as a part of the Triple B Blues Band with his childhood friend Scott Billings.

Their time in the entertainment district has allowed them to fall in love with Petersburg, but also shown them the harsh realities of poverty in the city.

“Money is the problem, and that’s what we’re trying to do, raise money,” said Billings.

Billings says 100 percent of the proceeds from the concert will go to the shelter. This concert is just one of several benefits the band plays for throughout the year because outreach is a part of their nature.

“This is just another way we heard the call and everybody answered the bell,” he explained.

They are hoping music will move people to give, with no definite fundraising goal. They hope people will be driven by compassion to keep the doors of the shelter open.

“A hot meal and a place to stay is worth everything and I think every body needs a hands up not a hand out,” said Mobley.

Just a few feet away from the men’s shelter is the Hope Center, which feeds hundreds of people in Petersburg. Executive Director Scott Fisher recognizes the need for places like the homeless men’s shelter and is hopeful for the fundraising efforts.

“We have some cold winter months coming up and we need to keep people warm. We don’t need them out in the streets freezing to death. It’s tough enough already,” said Fisher.

He says churches continue to answer the call as well, helping feed and clothe those in need. The Salvation Army says they have been meeting with local churches about how to move forward, even speaking with the city of Petersburg about options to continue to meet the needs of the community once the doors close.

Mobley, Billings and so many others hope it doesn’t get to that point at all, holding on to hope, that people will open their hearts.

“Hopefully we’ll buy another 30 days, maybe somebody can buy another 30 days, and next thing you know we’re back in to the spring and things aren’t quite as bad,” said Billings.

The concert will be held from 5 p.m. until midnight Dec. 14 at the Olde Town Civic Center on River Street.

Tickets are $10 and you can either buy them at the door or in advance by calling 804-733-8344.

The Salvation Army Central Virginia

The Salvation Army Central Virginia receives a $150,000 grant to support its Christmas Distribution

In the company of Santa and Mrs. Claus and dressed in holiday red, Ann Parker Gottwald helped usher in the holiday season at The Jefferson Hotel during its 31st annual tree-lighting festivities on Monday night.

Flanked by her husband, Thomas E. “Teddy” Gottwald, and four of her five sons and their wives, Gottwald is the 2017 Richmond Christmas Mother, which means she leads fundraising efforts for needy families throughout the holiday season.

The Richmond Christmas Mother Fund is a decades-old tradition sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which absorbs the administrative costs. From the fund, The Salvation Army Central Virginia receives a $150,000 grant to support its Christmas Distribution Center, though upward of an additional $100,000 is awarded to various holiday assistance programs, thanks to a partnership with The Community Foundation.

High spirits and holiday music moved throughout the expansive hotel, though further cause for celebration included an announcement from Gottwald earlier in the day that a special challenge grant has been created to encourage local businesses to contribute to the Richmond Christmas Mother Fund. An anonymous local foundation will match all area business contributions to the fund up to a total of $64,000.

“I’m very excited that this local foundation has come forward to encourage businesses to participate,” Gottwald said. “All donations from local businesses, large or small, will be matched until we reach $64,000.”

“This is a real boost for the fund,” she added, “and it means that more needy children in our community will have a brighter Christmas.”

Thomas A. Silvestri, president and publisher of The Times-Dispatch, called challenge grants “rare” and thanked Gottwald for her efforts.

“We are so thankful for this commitment,” said Silvestri, noting that the grant “is a special way of generating donations that also help dozens of nonprofit organizations doing good deeds throughout the region as part of the Richmond Christmas Mother campaign.”

Watching the festivities unfold from the packed staircase above the hotel’s ground level, 8-year-old Haley Moore peeked through the crowd in front of her for glimpses at the parade of characters — including members of Richmond Ballet and Richmond Flying Squirrels mascots Nutzy and Nutasha — that preceded the tree’s illumination.

She sang along to “Here Comes Santa Claus” as the big man himself and Mrs. Claus made their way down the stairs toward the switch that turned on the tree’s lights.

Her mother, Terry Moore, said this was their first time to The Jefferson for the holiday event. Her husband, Chuck Moore, was a member of the band Offering, which played during the festivities.

“She heard there was hot chocolate and cookies,” Moore joked about her daughter’s intentions.

Upstairs from the tree, executive pastry chef Sara Ayyash stood guard near the large confectionery creation of Santa in an airplane. Each year during the tree-lighting festivities, the hotel reveals its gingerbread creation, and this year’s is made from 200 pounds of baked gingerbread, 150 pounds of royal icing and at least 100 pounds of decorative candies.

She explained the story behind Santa’s flying vessel — “this year Santa’s reindeer are sick” — and then joked with a patron about having a sweet tooth this time every year.

“My dentist loves me,” she said.

Salvation Army Lynchburg Bell Ringers

Bell ringers needed in APX

The Salvation Army of Greater Lynchburg has kicked off the 2017 Red Kettle Campaign with a plea for volunteers.

The Red Kettle Campaign comprises on average 20 percent of The Salvation Army’s total budget. Last year, The Salvation Army provided more than 32,000 hot meals, 12,000 nights of lodging and financial assistance to more than 6,000 people. In addition, more than 18,000 gifts were given to children and the elderly through numerous community programs provided by the Lynchburg Salvation Army.

“We are asking as people make their plans for the holiday season, they also include time to volunteer as a bell ringer,” Captain Trey Jones said. “We are blessed to serve in one of the most generous communities in the country whose residents have a heart for helping others. Ringing a bell at a Red Kettle is a long-standing tradition in The Salvation Army, one we would love for the community to make part of their own this season.”

Due to closings and adjustments in individual store policies, The Salvation Army has lost several key bell ringing locations that brought in more than $20,000 last year. Having volunteer bell ringers instead of paid ringers ensures that funds raised in the Red Kettle can be applied directly to local program needs. Families and individuals of all ages are welcomed to ring with most choosing to ring in two-hour time slots, but time can be adjusted to accommodate groups and larger families.

If you would like more information regarding how you can volunteer or how to donate, please call 434-845-5939 or visit The Salvation Army of Greater Lynchburg serves Lynchburg, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell and Nelson counties and has been a part of the Greater Lynchburg community for more than 112 years.