RICHMOND – On any given day, the bays at the Defense Supply Center fire department here are filled with giant red fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. That was not the case Dec. 12 when, for a couple of hours, the worksite became a Santa’s Workshop filled with children’s bikes and brightly wrapped Christmas gifts destined for distribution to Richmond-area families as part of the 2019 Angel Tree program.
Conducted by The Salvation Army, in partnership with NBC 12, the Richmond-area Angel Tree program is an opportunity for members of the community to “adopt” one or more Central Virginia school kids with a goal of providing gifts and other items to give them a brighter Christmas.
“I love the Angel Tree program,” said Chicnee Brown, an executive assistant to the commander of Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, who had drawn the names of two elementary students and one high-schooler. “I personally have a reputation for going slightly overboard with buying everything my angels ask for.”
The value of her contributions this year was in the neighborhood of $500, but she quickly dismissed it as “a small price to pay” to make sure the three angels she adopted didn’t experience the same disappoint on Christmas morning she did growing up.
“On many occasions when I was a child, I did not receive any gifts for Christmas,” she recalled. “I know what it feels like to wake up on Christmas morning and not have any presents under the tree.”
Amy Clement, DLA-Aviation public affairs chief, said the DSCR participants adopted a total of 129 students this year. The recipients included youngsters from G.H. Reid Elementary in Richmond and Bensley and Bellwood Elementary schools in Chesterfield, as well as seniors at Meadowbrook High School, also in Chesterfield.
The public affairs team invested “countless hours” into event preparation, Clement also noted. Other hard-working and dedicated volunteers included representatives from DLA Installation Management Richmond’s Fire and Emergency Services as well as Pam Fredrick from the DLS-Aviation’s Career Development Branch and Joseph Franklin from the Order Fulfillment Division. As a team, they completed the community outreach project “without a hitch.”
“I can’t thank them enough,” Clement said. “They are amazing. It was all hands on deck. They helped unload gifts and passed out winter and holiday safety information.”
Sparky the Fire Dog also made an appearance at the Dec. 12 finale. He, along with installation firefighters, handed out goodie bags to those dropping off gifts. The haul of Christmas goodies this year exceeded more than 1,000 gifts.
Reacting to her participation in the program, Terri Parker from the Customer Operations Directorate – who had adopted a kindergarten angel from Bensley Elementary – expressed her feeling of satisfaction.
“It’s an awesome feeling to imagine the look on that little angel’s face,” she said. “I wanted her to know that someone other than a family member or friend cares about her.”