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 www.salvationarmylynchburg.org. 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.

Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command

Virginia Beach-based mattress company donates beds to Salvation Army shelters

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach-based company Leesa replaced 72 mattresses for two Salvation Army homeless shelters.

It’s part of the company’s One-Ten program–for every 10 mattresses purchased, Leesa donates one to someone in need.

In this case, the business replaced all of the mattresses in the Salvation Army’s H.O.P.E. Village community, a community for single women and women with children, as well as their Hope Center, a homeless men’s emergency shelter on 19th Street in Norfolk.

So far, Leesa has donated over 22,000 mattresses to non-profits serving people who seek refuge from homelessness, human trafficking and domestic abuse.

“The unboxing event that took place today will make a major impact on the quality of services The Salvation Army is able to deliver to the people in the Hampton Roads community who seek shelter during the holiday season – and all year long,” a representative for the Salvation Army said.

Salvation Army DMV kicks off holiday Red Kettle campaign

 – The sounds of the Salvation Army bells can now be heard ringing all over the DMV as the Red Kettle campaign kicks off. With each donation, the Salvation Army are helping to change the lives of those in need.

Vianelly Herrera is only 21 years old, but she’s already lived through enough heartache and hardship to last a lifetime.

“There were times I didn’t know where we were going to be, there were times where I didn’t know what we were going to eat. It’s been tough. It’s been tough,” she says.

“I don’t think they realize the pain that it is really to grow up without a mother,” she says.

Her daughter Ariana was born when she was just 16-years-old, forcing her to drop out of school and find a job. Nearly a year later, Herrera had her son, Jerimiah, and suddenly her hard life became even harder.

“When I had my son I didn’t have an address they told me if I didn’t have an address my son wouldn’t be discharged and I believe they said after ten days I couldn’t take my son. My son had to stay in the hospital until I could find somewhere to go,” she says.

She says that’s when she went into panic mode. She begged friends and family for a place to stay. She was eventually placed in a group home with her children but knew she had to do better for herself and her family.

Aleata Dawkins manages the Salvation Army Turning Point program in Northwest D.C.

“Miss Herrera I would call her, I probably get emotional thinking about her — resilient,” says Dawkins.

The program helps struggling families get back on track.

“Turning Point allows our families to come in and really realize that ‘I have an opportunity to turn my life around.’ I tell the families when they first come, it’s all about how you perceive this moment,” says Dawkins.

Turning point checks all the boxes for its residents, from life skills and job training, childcare, and all the basics.

“Families that come to Turning Point oftentimes come with nothing, a couple of bags of clothes,” says Dawkins.

They are given a completely furnished unit with dressers, bedding, sheets, pots, pans.

But there is one thing Herrera got from the program that she wasn’t given, her diploma. She says she worked hard, struggled, and sacrificed to get it.

“Yes I did June 13 at 10 o’clock in the morning. I know the exact date. I felt accomplished,” says Herrera.

“We sell dreams that they’ve never seen,” says Dawkins.

Herrera’s dreams are becoming a reality for her and an example for her kids.

“When my kids grow up I want them never to quit,” she says.

She also wants to you to think of her when you hear the Salvation Army’s bell ringing and see their red kettle.

“You can change life,” says Herrera.

“All the money that is donated through those red kettles goes to support a family. She could’ve given up. She sees a future. And now that she’s grasped that she can have the future she wanted, the sky’s the limit,” says Dawkins.

Major Lisa Hall with the Salvation Army says 80,000 people were helped in the DMV area from last year’s donations.

The donations go to support food, rent and utilities for families in need. It also supports three drug and alcohol programs, as well as the Turning Point program, and a new anti-human trafficking program.

The Salvation Army’s goal is to raise $1.4 million dollars from the DC metro area this season.

You can visit the Salvation Army’s website for information about donating or to volunteer.

 

NBC4 & Salvation Army Area Command

Pat Lawson Muse talks with Maj. James Hall, area commander for the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command, and Program Services Director Leslye Wooley about what the Salvation Army is doing to help people in the D.C. area.