Angel behind the 'Angel Tree'

Angel behind the ‘Angel Tree’

WAYNESBORO – Her parents are involved in the Salvation Army, and so was the generation before them.

Helping people and spreading the Christian message of the group comes naturally to Capt. Elyshia Perdieu, although within the Waynesboro corps leadership she is the shy, behind-the-scenes person.

Her husband, Jason, is the other captain, and the one becoming known for outreach like the ambitious marathon bell-ringing sessions outside Walmart.

But it’s “Captain Elyshia” who is one of The News Leader’s chosen 2017 “Newsmakers,” for the outreach she does in the community and the connections she has been building during the five years the couple has lived here.

“I’m the quiet one,” she said.

For “Newsmakers,” each year our newsroom selects members of the community to feature who may not be in the public eye — but are part of the key pool of citizens moving forward the projects and topics our area cares about.

In the Christmas toy drive this year, more than 180 families and 350 children were served through her group’s efforts and partnerships with other local associations such as the Rotary. Kmart and Kate Collins Middle School were two of the places for Angel Trees, where members of the public could take a case with a child’s name and wish list written on a paper ornament tag.

About a fourth of the clients this year for Angel Tree gift and clothing assistance were new, said Perdieu and volunteer Carol “Christmas Carol” Johnson.

The group also provides senior food boxes during the holidays for the elderly, and energy assistance programs during the winter in cooperation with Dominion.

This Waynesboro Salvation Army leader is a News Leader Newsmaker for 2017. William Ramsey/The News Leader

“Need has no season,” Perdieu said. “You might be in a loan office or you might be in Kmart or Kroger, and that person helping you is a person that is in need. A lot of people are living paycheck-to-paycheck right now. And if we didn’t have this program going, some of our families might not have a Christmas.”

Salvation Army 'Angels' deliver joy for hundreds of children

Salvation Army ‘Angels’ deliver joy for hundreds of children

CUMBERLAND — Finding gifts to complete any holiday wish list can be a challenge. Filling hundreds of wish lists takes all year.

“As soon as we finish this Christmas,” Salvation Army Maj. Dianna Blevins said, “we will start working on next Christmas.”

Next to the “Red Kettles,” the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program is the organization’s largest holiday fundraiser. Launched in 1979 in Lynchburg, Virginia, the program has provided needy children from around the country with Christmas gifts for nearly four decades.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” Karen Wells, social services director at Salvation Army, said. “It’s so much fun to go through and see all of the things that the kids are getting, and imagine what it’s going to be like when they open the gifts on Christmas.”

This year, 603 children from Mineral, Hampshire and Allegany counties will have a brighter Christmas thanks to Angel Tree.

“We want to make sure we can give them the best Christmas they’ve ever had,” Blevins said.

Angel Tree candidates must pass an approval process. After the number of eligible children is confirmed, officials will reach out to a variety of local organizations asking them to “adopt an angel.”

“It really is a community driven operation,” Wells said. “People are very generous.”

Churches, nonprofits and private businesses are among some of the Angel Tree donors that receive a small angel-shaped tag featuring the child’s wish list items.

According to Wells, all angels were adopted this year, regardless of the organization losing a major local corporate donor.

“Last year 75 angels were not adopted,” Wells said. “Even without (the company), were able to get all (angels) adopted this year.

“So that tells you that the community is becoming more generous,” she said.

 The Salvation Army will provide for any child (angel) not adopted, as well as purchasing  items if the child’s wish list is not completed by a donor.

“We can’t tell donors how to spend their money,” Wells said. “Anything that we get we are grateful.”

Each child will receive two toys, two necessity items, such as clothing, and a red bag containing stocking stuffers. Some of the most popular toy asks this year include Pokemon, Shopkins and Num Noms.

While most families pick up toys at local distribution sites, officials will deliver to families without transportation.

“The people in Mineral and Hampshire County, we go to them,” Lawrence said, “because a lot of them can’t come to us.

“A lot of those people don’t have transportation, so we go to them.”

Patrick Henry student spends prize money to help the needy

Patrick Henry student spends prize money to help the needy

MARTINSVILLE – Denise Handy, a guidance counselor at Patrick Henry Elementary School, recently witnessed a selfless act of kindness from a fifth grade student.

It all started when the school announced that each class would be collecting goods for both the Community Storehouse and the Salvation Army.

While both recipients of the collected items serve needy families throughout the Martinsville-Henry County community, they each make a notable imprint on the area.

The Community Storehouse, located at 4201 Greensboro Rd. in Ridgeway, serves impoverished people in multiple ways.

The food pantry – stocked by community donations – often houses meats, canned goods, shelf-stable foods and a variety of perishable items for those who would otherwise go without dinner on the table.

The nonprofit also helps children in area schools with a backpack program. At the end of each week, the Community Storehouse provides snacks and kid-friendly meals to students who exhibit a need and rely on school breakfasts and lunches as their main source of nutrients.

Getting people get back on track, the organization also helps clients find temporary jobs and informs individuals about job fairs taking place in the area.

The Salvation Army, located at 603 Memorial Blvd. S. in Martinsville, also helps people in need in the community.

The organization provides food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.

The local branch of the organization also holds a community meal three times a week and serves as a warming shelter for those without a home in extreme temperatures.

When Holden Hendricks, a student in Pamela Draper-Cabiness’s class, heard about the two drives benefiting the local nonprofits, the fifth grader approached Handy with a special request.

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A look at Pamela Draper-Cabiness’s class, who donated the most non-canned goods to benefit the Community Storehouse’s backpack program


Hendricks offered to provide an incentive for his peers to boost the number of donations going to the Salvation Army.

He proposed the idea of a pizza party for the class that brought the most canned goods to school – and offered to pay for the celebratory meal.

“He uses his own money he wins from karate tournaments,” Handy said.

Inspired by the child’s selfless act, Handy also created an incentive for the other food drive.

“Since I knew that the Community Storehouse was struggling and that they serve our students in need with the backpack program, I wanted to collect food items for them as well,” Handy said. “I offered the class that brought in the most non-canned food items an ice cream sundae party as an incentive.”

As donations started to trickle in for each organization, Handy helped keep the drive at the forefront of students’ minds throughout the collection period.

“As I went into the classrooms daily to teach guidance, I taught students about kindness and compassion in relation to helping our community, encouraging them to bring in items,” Handy said.

Students and staff at PHES collected 1,109 cans of food for the Salvation Army and 450 food items for the Community Storehouse’s backpack program.

“Holden’s class did not win the pizza party, but did win the ice cream sundae party for bringing in the most items for the Community Storehouse,” Handy said.

Donna LaPrad’s third grade class and Jamie Earnest’s first grade class tied for the top spot for bringing the most donations to benefit the Salvation Army.

“Holden will provide the pizza for one class and the school will provide pizza for the other winning class, since there were two winners,” Handy said. “Holden was willing to provide pizza for both classes. He is a prime example of ‘not self, but others.’”

Waynesboro’s marathon man ups the ante

WAYNESBORO — Forty-eight hours straight: that’s how long Captain Jason Perdieu of the Waynesboro Salvation Army, rang the Red Kettle bell in front of Walmart last year. Now, he plans to top that impressive accomplishment by ringing the bell for a full 52 consecutive hours. He started this year’s marathon at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and will stay out in front of the Lucy Lane Walmart in Waynesboro until 1 p.m. Friday.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said of last year’s marathon. “People said I was crazy, but I love doing it. I always liked ringing the bell, ever since I was a kid.”

Wanting to take last year’s fundraising feat one step further this year, Perdieu came up with “52 for others,” a reference to the number of weeks in a year.  A calendar stands behind him as he rings the bell. Every hour that goes by, he marks off a week.

“It’s one hour for every week of the year that there is need,” he said.

In “48 hours for others” — the theme of the 2016 marathon — he fought cold, sleepless nights, even sleep-deprived delusions. When asked what strategy he learned for this year, Perdieu said, “stay hydrated, eat lots of candy and layer.”

What keeps him going? People, he said.

“There are more people signed up for Christmas [with The Salvation Army] — it seems like the need grows every year,” he said. “I know there’s a need and every time the bell rings, someone gets a wish granted.”

He also encouraged people to stop by Walmart on Lucy Lane over the next 52 hours to say just say hi or to chat. Perdieu said he loves talking to people and that helps him stay awake and keep going.

Last year, the marathon raised more than $23,000. With a supportive community like Waynesboro, he said he hopes he can top it.

“The goal is always to raise more,” Perdieu said. “Last year was overwhelming. Everything raised in Waynesboro stays in Waynesboro.”

To get involved with the campaign, contributors and well-wishers can come out to support him, donate to the kettle or donate online at

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…