Cumberland Christmas Mother

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, January 20, 2011

CUMBERLAND – Although the local community is dealing with economic woes, there's no shortage of volunteers, angels, and elves in Cumberland County, according to 2010 Christmas Mother data presented by Alice Metts, Christmas Mother volunteer and CSA coordinator.

“The economy has hit Cumberland very hard this year,” she said. “We had a lot of people who had actually been donors to the Christmas Mother and who found themselves needing help.”

Ms. Metts presented donation numbers to the County's Board of Supervisors on Thursday, January 13. The Christmas Mother is a year-long program that offers help at all times of the year but especially works during the Christmas season to assist families in need, said Ms. Metts.

Email newsletter signup

“It's an outstanding program,” said Chairman Van Petty, District Three. “It's a tremendous support for the program from the citizens of Cumberland County…”

The Cumberland Christmas Mother Committee consists of nine volunteers who work 12 months out of the year to meet needs in Cumberland.

“We do work year-round, it's not just a Christmas operation,” she explained. “We work to help people who have illnesses during the year and can't pay for their medications. We help children get glasses and we've provided money for gas to get children to Richmond for specialists. It is a year-round project.”

There are an additional 18 volunteers who “faithfully” come each year for two days at Christmas to help give out presents.

“They are very busy being elves,” she expressed to the Board. “In fact, this year we had more elves than we could get in the place we use.”

The Christmas Mother program is now housed in the Cumberland Community Center.

“This building does not have steps and it's much more convenient,” she said. “We have air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. It's just delightful…”

In 2010, the Christmas Mother experienced more requests for services than ever seen.

Help and presents were offered to approximately 503 children in Cumberland and 206 families.

“That was just for the Christmas season,” she added.

According to Ms. Metts, each child is given one nice Christmas present, several smaller presents and then a stocking was provided and stuffed dolls were also given to the girls.

Other items given included books, crayons, an item of clothing or an outfit for all children including underclothes and socks, hats, and mittens and each family also gets at least one game.

“We try to contact every church in the county and every club in the county,” noted Ms. Metts about donations. “We reach out to organizations outside the County… We make angels representing all the children that apply and hang them up throughout the County. This year about 350 of the angels were adopted and got back a nice Christmas bag of things.”

The Cumberland school system also helps the Christmas Mother program, she described.

This year the school system raised just over $1,000 for the program.

“We do a lot of change counting for that,” she said. “The children bring in a lot of dimes, nickels, and pennies, whatever they can find and the teachers pay to wear jeans on Friday…”

Mostly, all of the donations are received from within the boundaries of the county.

“We've learned that people who apply for help one year will be the family next year that will adopt another family,” she smiled while describing the process of past families wanting to give back. “…It has been a marvelous opportunity for everyone in Cumberland County to participate.

Cumberland deputies from the Sheriff's Department took time out of their busy schedules and on their days off duty to take an additional 18 children shopping individually for gifts, Ms. Metts said.

The children were identified by the school system and provided to the Christmas Mother.

“I thought our Sheriff's Department deserved a lot of recognition for what they did,” she said.

The Sheriff's Office has been taking children from the community shopping for the last several years.

“The citizens of Cumberland are really good,” concluded Ms. Metts. “I think the spirit of giving lives in Cumberland County.”