WILLIAMSBURG — The Salvation Army of Williamsburg works to give hope to families during the holiday season.
Through the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, the nonprofit collects and distributes Christmas gifts to children in need in the Greater Williamsburg area. Community members can sign up and sponsor families.
This year, the Salvation Army Williamsburg is preparing donations for more than 500 families and nearly 1,200 kids. The nonprofit also has a Seniors Angel Tree Program, which will assist more than 120 seniors this year.
Capt. Julio and Maj. Luci Da Silva, husband and wife, are the commanding officers of Salvation Army Williamsburg.
“The beauty of this program is the community comes together,” Capt. Julio Da Silva said. “It’s neighbor helping neighbor.”
In the warehouse at the Salvation Army Williamsburg headquarters, which moved to its new location on Ironbound Road from its previous spot in Norge in 2018, volunteers were hard at work on Wednesday, Dec. 15, the first day of the Angel Tree distribution.
Da Silva said that as soon as applications open up in October, community members instantly fill out applications to sponsor an “angel.”
Between many donors in the community and more than 200 volunteers, who Da Silva called “an army of volunteers who want to give hope,” Salvation Army is run by the generosity of the community.
“It takes a village,” Da Silva said “It’s an army behind this army.”
Angel Tree sponsors can put new clothes and toys under the tree for children, as well as donate holiday food cards for families to buy food.
“The families don’t have to worry about ‘Are my kids going to have Christmas gifts under my tree? Am I going to have food on the table?’ We take care of that,” Da Silva said.
Along with the Angel Tree distribution, Salvation Army Williamsburg offers other services throughout the year, including youth programs and mentoring, a mobile food pantry, transportation assistance and transitional housing assistance.
The iconic Red Kettle is a major fundraiser to be able to do the Angel Tree and services for the holiday season. The bell ringing season will run through the whole holiday season at different locations around Williamsburg.
Da Silva said that the Salvation Army is grateful to the community members who helped make the holiday program happen.
“I sometimes say that if I could make a Hallmark movie, I would name it ‘Williamsburg Believes in the Meaning of Christmas,’ or something like that,” he laughed. “Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle, they are a very loving community.”
For more information on how to help families in need this holiday season, visit the Salvation Army Williamsburg website.