By Patty Kruszewski, Henrico Citizen Managing Editor 10/28/10
The orange and black decorations in stores have yet to give way to red and green, but Henrico residents can rest assured that the Christmas season has officially begun.
At the annual Henrico Christmas Mother kickoff coffee, held Oct. 18 at Belmont Recreation Center, Christmas Mother "alumni" from as far back as 1977 gathered to recognize the 2010 honoree – and to celebrate almost 70 years of helping needy neighbors enjoy Christmas with new clothing, ample food, and gifts.
Henrico Christmas Mother Council President Shelly Poole announced that for the first time, donations to the Christmas Mother program can be made through the program's website – and that the convenience of giving online has already brought in some first-time donors.
In other good news, said Poole, Martin's Food and Drug will be reinstituting the Ukrop’s Share a Holiday Meal program and providing gift cards to the Christmas Mother program at discounted rates.
Anne Southworth, the 1997 Christmas Mother, also noted that a recent book-signing held by her daughter brought in more than $2,000 for the program.
Maribeth Southworth, a 1978 graduate of Hermitage High School, held a reading and signing Oct. 16 at Crossridge for her book, "She Finally Sat Down – 50 Years of Memories, Musings and Melodrama." Proceeds from book sales at the event were donated to the Henrico Christmas Mother.
The extra donations could not have been more timely, Poole said, considering the growth in number of families served each season, and the indications that more than 6,000 individuals will require assistance this year.
Carolyn Bush, who serves as liaison between the Christmas Mother and Henrico County Public Schools, reported that letters from the superintendent have already gone out to school principals, who are challenging students to contribute canned goods and toys by offering unique incentives – such as promises to kiss a pig when goals are met.
"The great thing about the Christmas Mother program is that every child has the opportunity to bring in something – a can of food," said Bush. And Christmas Mothers were quick to back Bush up with stories of students from low-income households offering canned goods and hard-earned dimes "for someone who needs it."
Dorothy M. Tatem, the 2010 Christmas Mother, comes from a family of nine children herself and can relate to the life situations of many recipients.
In 1973, Tatem was the first African American female to enlist in the Virginia Air National Guard. After serving as an inventory management specialist, the long-time Fairfield resident retired from the Guard in 2004 as a senior master sergeant.
As the 69th Henrico Christmas Mother, she will visit schools and civic organizations, appear in local parades, meet with volunteers and donors, and lead the efforts of the 15 volunteer co-chairs who solicit donations and recruit volunteers to staff the Henrico Christmas Mother Warehouse in December.
In addition to thanking Bush and the school system employees, Poole also paid tribute to co-chairs Lisa Orlosky and Juliana Haalboom for their efforts representing Henrico County government employees. County Manager Virgil Hazelett, who has worked with the program for more than 35 years, came in for his share of appreciation as well.
Attending the annual gathering and seeing the energy and commitment of the volunteers, responded Hazelett, never fails to inspire him.
"It doesn't matter what my day [at work] is like," Hazelett told the women. "All I have to do is come here, and life slows down.
"And life is good."
The Henrico Christmas Mother will take requests from Henrico families with children, the elderly, and disabled adults at 361 Dabbs House Road on Nov. 1, 8 and 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Nov. 15 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Applicants must bring the following: proof of county residence; social security cards for all household members; income verification, such as pay stubs, Medicaid cards, or food stamp card; and disability certification for any disabled adults.
To avoid duplication of effort, applicants must agree not to request help from similar agencies assisting families for Christmas.
For information about donating, volunteering, or applying to the Christmas Mother program, call 236-9741 or visit henricochristmasmother.org. To sponsor a family for Christmas, call 501-5538. To make a donation by check, mail to Henrico Christmas Mother, P.O. Box 27, Sandston, VA 23150.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.
A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”
The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.
The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.
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CalendarThe Short Pump Ruritan Club is seeking crafters for its 24th annual craft show, which will be held Saturday, Oct. 25, at Short Pump Middle School, 4701 Pouncey Tract Road.… Full text