As the COVID-19 crisis continued to smother families struggling to make ends meet, there came a 20 percent increase in requests for Christmas gifts this year through Lake Christian Ministries’ A Child’s Christmas. Over 430 children, ages newborn to 16 years old, were enrolled in the program, an unprecedented number in need.

COVID however, could not shut down the generosity of those concerned about their neighbors and friends who were unable to celebrate this year.

Angel card requests flew off the trees as quickly as they were distributed at churches (Trinity, Resurrection, Patmos UMC, Bethlehem UMC, Epworth UMC) and businesses (Blackwater Café, Carilion Wellness Center, Hot Shots, Remax Realty, American National Bank, Mariner’s Landing, Downtown Moneta Antique Mall). Gifts of warm clothing and wish-list toys poured in for children by name.

COVID made shopping a difficult and cautious venture out, but it did not deter donors from online and off-hour shopping sprees.

Toy collection boxes filled up at sites around the lake area: Westlake Automotive, 4 Dollar General stores, Mama Ann’s, Moneta Farm and Home Center, SML Coffee House, Hot Shots, CAPPS, both Westlake and Moneta Libraries. Others like Sea Tow, Napoli Cowboy and DeNeal’s Cabinets brought in more donations for the children who were expecting little or nothing this holiday season.

Anonymous donors helped fund clothes and gifts for hundreds of other children, including $2 bills for each child, to remind them how “special” they are.

Two dozen volunteers masked and socially distanced, worked for over a week putting together gift bags for each child. Others came to help load presents in parents’ cars.

In the end, COVID could not “mask” the kindness nor “socially distance” the concern of families for each other. 

No surprise, COVID could not stop Christmas from coming to Smith Mountain Lake. The spirit of Christmas spread throughout the community, inspired by the love shared with us that first Christmas morning.

- Lynda Imirie, coordinator of Lake Christian Ministries A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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