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Angels of Loudoun County

photoTimes-Mirror Photo/Crystal Owens Salvation Army volunteers help Patricia Varrera of Leesburg load gifts for her 4-year-old daughter into a bag Monday at the National Conference Center. The organization collected 1,800 toys that will be distributed to 400 to 500 Loudoun County families through its Angel Tree program.

The children of more than 400 Loudoun County families, that otherwise would receive no gifts, will awake Christmas morning to find Santa didn’t forget them.

Through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, residents of Loudoun County donated 1,800 toys, clothes and other necessities to those in need.

Volunteers with The Salvation Army of Loudoun County were armed with bicycles, diapers, Dora dolls, warm coats and even Ipods to give to families Monday at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne. Families began arriving at 9 a.m. and will continue to pick up their donations until 6 p.m.

For families struggling in a down economy, the gifts mean the difference between paying the utility bills or putting food on the table.

“I’m a single mom, with no parents here to help,” said Patricia Varrera of Leesburg as she waited to pick up gifts for her 4-year-old daughter. “It really helps a lot. [My daughter], she’s excited for Santa this year. She keeps asking ‘mom is Santa coming today? Is Santa coming today? I’m a good girl, mommy.’ I hope she got something she asked for.”

Salvation Army Capt. Allen Tanner said the need this year for toys grew compared to last year when 1,300 gifts were distributed.

Many of the toys were donated by Loudoun County companies, such as Orbital, Raytheon and Catoctin School of Music. The rest were given by caring Loudoun County residents who picked names off of Angel Trees set up throughout the area, including Dulles Town Center and Wal-Mart.

“That’s how we were able to do this, by the community coming together,” Tanner said.

The need, Tanner said, is still growing. The Salvation Army has already distributed toys to families on two waiting lists and he hopes they can continue the momentum.

“Loudoun County is a very supportive community and no one ever says no,” he said.

The distribution center was set up in the basement of the National Conference Center, which was donated by Kurt Krause, chairman of the center’s board of directors. Krause has already donated the space for next year as well, Tanner said.

Judy A. Brittle, development director for The Salvation Army’s Loudoun County chapter, said the day has been bittersweet for the volunteers.

“When you see the parents come up and pick up the boxes for the kids, it’s just overwhelming,” Brittle said. “The donors in Loudoun County are magnificent. They give and they give and give to children.”

photoTimes-Mirror Photo/Crystal Owens Boxes of toys, diapers and clothing line the basement of the National Conference Center in Lansdowne. The Salvation Army of Loudoun County used the space as a staging area to give out 1,800 toys to needy families on Monday.

Still, while coffers are full during the holiday season, it’s difficult to find volunteers for other needs, she said.

The Salvation Army provides not only clothing and toys for the needy, but helps with food and utility bills as well. That money comes through donations and the biggest campaign each year starts with the organization’s bell ringers.

The organization has 22 locations in Loudoun County where volunteers are allowed to ring bells to collect monetary donations. There simply aren’t enough volunteers to fill the spaces, Brittle said.

“If I can get them as excited about ringing the bell as this, that means food on someone’s table, that means someone doesn’t have to go without heat,” she said.



@ unknown
While having one’s own “intranet” may be an unnecessary luxury, I do not believe that one having internet access is. There is a difference. Internet access enables education, among other things. For example, if I didn’t know the difference between an intranet and the internet, I could just google it and educate myself. We now absolutely have the world at our fingertips, you can pretty much learn anything you want to because of the internet. And I believe that should be made available to all.
I don’t see any issue with people donating ipods or ipads. If they can afford to give it, why not? I think the issue you have is a class issue. You feel that these underpriviledged folks should not get things that are better than your things. Somehow, if their stuff is better than yours, then they must not deserve it. As if they’re winning some sort of race because they cheated. The whole point of the holidays is to give… unconditionally.

Judging the person’s financial situation based on their SUV or their personal appearance is also superficial, since you do not know if they are coming in with another family member to pick up their things or they are about to have their SUV taken away or repossessed, or their electricity cut off, therefore you should look beyond that SUV to the particular needs of the people in need, most people don’t like to ask for charity unless they really need it. Have you thought about different circumstances that can put people in that situation? such as a lay off or an illness without medical insurance. So I find comments such as yours frivolous and unfair.

instead of donating needless items (IPODS) which children DONOT need donate books, clothing, for children to ask for IPODS and such is very frivolous.  Besides they need intranet for those items if they cant afford to buy them then they shouldnt have intranet - this is a luxury not a necessity.  These lists are why I stopped donating, especially when a friend worked this and seen parents coming in with SUVs and cell phones that were nicer than hers and she works hard.  That is a little hard to swallow when that happens, besides if you choose joey and johnny has less they take from joeys pile for johnny - I believe in these charities and I believe in helping the needy but not when its frivolous and unfair

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