Local Christmas Mother Programs Spread Hope and Joy
Lisa Schaffner writes about the Christmas Mother organization.
Remember when you were 6 years old – ah, come on, we know you can remember – and the moment you caught that first glimpse of the tree on Christmas morning? Remember the feelings of excitement, joy and elation when you saw all those brightly wrapped packages just for you? That’s how the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother program wants every child to feel this Christmas.
“If we give children a little hope at Christmas, they will grow up to be bigger, better people. The holidays are about hope and joy, and people need that. We believe in the spirit of Christmas,” says Bonnie Cauthorn, 2014 Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother Committee member.
The Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother – one of several Christmas Mother programs helping area families in need during the holiday season – provides toys, clothing, books, bikes and food. They expect to help 1,700 Chesterfield and Colonial Heights families this year. That translates to 5,000 people.
“Families can be sponsored by a church or business, or a volunteer can help them shop at the center. We even have groups like the Lions who will host a party and take kids to Wal-Mart and allow them to shop for their brothers and sisters,” according to Cauthorn. “It’s not just one size fits all. That’s how we are able to help so many people.” The elderly are also provided for by the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother.
CHRISTMAS MOTHERS AROUND THE AREA
The Henrico Christmas Mother program serves Henrico County families, seniors and the disabled who qualify. One of the most important aspects of its program is the involvement of Henrico school students who conduct food drives. It doesn’t stop there.
“A few groups such as Moody Middle School collected new clothing such as hats, gloves and socks,” says Terry Brady, 2012 Henrico Christmas Mother. Other county groups are also involved. “The Henrico Sheriff’s Department gives bikes, and county firefighters have collected peanut butter. Henrico County is a big supporter of what we do.”
Unlike Chesterfield-Colonial Heights where the annual Christmas mother is chosen from among the volunteer committee, in Henrico the Christmas Mother rotates annually among the county’s magisterial districts. This year it’s the Three Chopt District’s turn, and Becky Goshorn is the representative. “Retired math teachers apparently make great Henrico Christmas Mothers,” laughs Brady. “A little known fact is that for the last three years, we’ve all been retired math teachers!” Goshorn retired from Hermitage High School. Harriett Long, last year’s Henrico Christmas Mother, retired from Moody Middle. Brady retired from Godwin High School.
The Richmond Christmas Mother Fund is celebrating 80 years of helping families and giving back to the Richmond community this holiday season. For the first time, the Richmond Christmas Mother is partnering with The Community Foundation. The campaign is called, “80 Years, 80 Ways.” Eighty organizations will apply for $80,000 in grant money. Through a continuing partnership with the Salvation Army, it will also offer gifts for needy children.
Maya Smart is the 2014 Richmond Christmas Mother, the first African-American and, at 34, possibly the youngest face of the program in its history. “I was excited that an organization that’s been serving the community so long was moving in a different direction and reaching a new demographic and donating dollars beyond the usual,” Smart told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in a November article announcing her selection. The program was started in 1935 by The Richmond News Leader newspaper, which merged with the Times-Dispatch in 1992. The paper oversees the fund.
Smart, whose husband is Virginia Commonwealth University basketball coach Shaka Smart [see the October-November issue of BOOMER], added: “I have a huge heart for kids, particularly kids that haven’t had all the advantages that we’ve been able to give our daughter. This felt like an extension of things I’m already doing in the community.”