On Christmas morning, Santa delivered surprise presents to the children of one local Mom who said turning the cable service back on would be their only gift this year – it was all she could afford.
Santa also brought gifts to the children of another Mom in Woodbridge who has been out of work and savings for seven months, following a double mastectomy.
Both Moms, along with many other parents, were invited to participate in Secret Santa shopping sprees for their children, funded by local businesses. Many Prince William County small businesses, including Nichols Zauzig and First Guardian Title, have taken part in a grass-roots program for over 25 years to provide the shopping sprees for area disadvantaged families.
The outreach began with a small group of local businesses banding together to purchase Christmas presents for disadvantaged children attending Featherstone Elementary. This year 18 local schools were included and a record $25,000 was raised by 27 businesses and organizations!
Woodbridge residents Diane Gish and Kim Rogers have carried the torch for many years, organizing and fund raising for this event. They coordinate with local school guidance counselors who choose families to participate in the program.
The donations are translated into Target gift cards used on a big shopping day at the Target in Fortuna Plaza in Dumfries. Parents meet with Gish, Rogers and other volunteers at Target and fill up their carts with toys and clothing “from Santa.” Volunteers facilitate the purchases using the Secret Santa donations.
The generous employees’ donations made Nichols Zauzig/First Guardian a top contributor this year, providing enough to support the needy children from one entire elementary school. That was the goal, said Terri Ireland, Office Manager, who has organized this effort for the firm since the program began.
It’s a wonderful holiday story to have local small businesses band together to help some local children’s holiday wishes come true.