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Christmas Mother readies for the holidays

Barry Vassar has been the Cumberland County Christmas Mother since 2014.

Barry Vassar

As his fourth year serving in his position approaches, he and the nine members of the county’s Christmas Mother Committee are gearing up to assist families in need.

The Cumberland Christmas Mother program helps supplement Christmas toys and other items for families who may not have the income for additional Christmas gifts.

Vassar joked about his title in the program, saying he is not only the Christmas Mother, but the only man on the committee.

“They decided that this man needed to be Christmas Mother,” Vassar said.

Vassar said while the organization can’t promise providing a full Christmas for families, he said members of Christmas Mother work tirelessly to give area families a small boost — one that’s needed more than ever during the holidays.

“We start working in February,” Vassar said, “with making purchases and preparing for December. We do our applications … we do our marketing, we do everything else from really February all the way up until December, and then it starts again.”

He said last year the organization provided gifts for roughly 280 families.

Vassar said throughout the year, the committee has also helped supplement families with school supplies.

As the holidays approach, Vassar said Cumberland residents can keep an eye out for area businesses that might feature Christmas angels sponsored by Christmas Mother with gift requests or donation cans where members of the community can drop off monetary donations.

Vassar said people could also donate during the holiday lights program held at Bear Creek Lake State Park on Dec. 8, 9 and 10. The organization will also have a float in the Cumberland Christmas Parade and host a senior luncheon in December.

“We have a busy few weeks in December,” Vassar said.

For families who have applied and were qualified for the Christmas Mother program, Vassar said pick-up days for the gifts will take place Dec. 12 and 15 on Community Center Drive, located by the Department of Social Services building.

In addition to picking up the gifts requested, Vassar said parents and families can also look through extra items the organization received in donations for additional potential gifts.

Vassar said the organization mainly relies on support and donations from area businesses. He encouraged people to donate through monetary funds, gifts and getting involved in the organization.

“What I like people to know each year is that the Cumberland Community Christmas Mother does everything it can to supplement Christmas for children who might not otherwise have a Christmas,” Vassar said.

Vassar, who serves as pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist Church in Cumberland, said the church is also assembling gift bags for elderly members of the community, and encouraged volunteers to help.

The Cumberland County Christmas Mother committee meets the first Monday of each month.

To learn more about the Christmas Mother or the Fitzgerald Memorial Gift Program, call Committee Chair Debbie Kennel at (804) 980-5022.

Donations are payable to the Cumberland Community Christmas Mother at P.O. Box 330, Cumberland, VA, 23040 or dropped off at the Cumberland Department of Social Services on Community Center Drive.