Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Stealing a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, where Clark Griswold told “SNOT” the dog: “Now I know what Christmas means to me.” You see, this has been a very special Christmas for the Vittles for Vets charity, our volunteer’s elves, and to a great degree, our caring and generous community.
We decided to undertake a mission to ensure all children of veterans, enrolled in the Vittles food program aged 18 and under, would not be forgotten by Santa and would receive presents under the tree. A noble but daunting task as we have forty nine children we elected to provide for.
Our Director of Events, Donna Salmons (a.k.a. Mrs. Claus), instantly took to Facebook with an appeal for help seeking donations in the form of monetary donations, toys and clothing for the children, with the option of “Adopting a child for Christmas” and purchasing a minimum of $150.00 in gifts being spent on each child. Jackie Lee Wolfe came up with a catchy name that personified the mission’s intent perfectly: Vittles’ Littles.
In a very short period of time all the children were spoken for with enough money left to purchase a $50.00 food gift card for each veteran, with food restrictions lifted, specifically for a special holiday, Christmas dinner.
The fact that the community came together providing all that was needed to guarantee a very special Christmas for these children, who may otherwise have gone without, should be reason enough to identify the true spirit of Christmas, but it wasn’t. The following are instances of what I will refer to as “Divine” coincidences.
#1- A two year old Great Grandchild of one of our veterans sent me the requested “Christmas Wish List”. The number one item on that list was a play kitchen complete with a stove and refrigerator. An odd gift I thought. A week prior to receiving the request a repeat donor to the Vittles offered that very item unbeknownst to either of us it would be specifically requested by a child. Quite a coincidence I thought.
#2- A mother donated gifts and “like new” clothing that she had in her home. Among the items donated was a “weight vest”, an item foreign to all volunteers except for Betty Whiteman (a.k.a Head Elf). As timing would have it, the week prior to this discovery, Vittles enrolled a seventy year old veteran who had custody of his two Grandchildren, brother and sister twins aged six. The young boy is “autistic” and the weight vest, and we learned, is specifically made for children with autism as it provides a calming effect when worn. The veteran Grandfather has been trying to locate one for months. A second and more profound coincidence. Possibly.
#3: One of our veterans’ children asked for a game chair. The elves thought it might be too expensive to ask for, so they wrote a bean bag chair on his list. However, when it came time to buy the gift, the sponsor couldn't find a bean bag chair, so they bought a game chair, without even knowing that that was what he wanted all along.
#4- Our Director in Roanoke, Mark Teer and his wife Dei, delivered Thanksgiving Dinner to a veteran in Lynchburg where he offered his services to deliver, on Christmas Eve, dressed as Santa Clause with Dei as an Elf, Christmas gifts for the two year old Granddaughter. Upon hearing this the veteran, in emotional excitement, exclaimed to Mark that he would be travelling to North Carolina on Christmas Eve day to pick up his three other Great Grandchildren and bring them to his home so they could see Santa in person as the young ones have never, in their young lives, had the opportunity to meet the Big Guy, in fact they had never celebrated Christmas due to the families extreme financial difficulties. These children had never received a gift from Santa nor a Christmas dinner surrounded by family. Such is the plight of the impoverished living among us. That all changed that day.
Dei, leading the charge with Mark securely in tow, set out to right this wrong. Although the children do not reside with the veteran, as required by Vittles rules, an exception was made and assurances given that those three children, age two, four and six, would never again experience a Christmas without a visit from Santa himself. The toys and clothing were purchased with Christmas Gift money that was earmarked for Dei’s son Grant, who willingly gave up his presents stating “I don’t need anything, I have everything I need. Help some kids with it.” This from a fourteen year old member of the “ME” generation. Inspirational indeed.
You ask me “What does Christmas mean to you” these are four perfect examples. It almost appears the CEO of Vittles, God, with a little prompting from Chappy, our liaison in Heaven, bears responsibility for the perceived “Divine Coincidences.”
I thank you all for your tireless support of this much needed program, be it support through donations, volunteering or just in prayer, thank you and God bless.
Vittles for Vets
Bill McCann, president/founder
To learn more about how you can help support Vittles for Vets, through donations or volunteering, please visit our Support Us Page.
In particular, we would like to thank the following partners and individuals who made the Vittles' Littles program such a success this year:
Harris Self Storage
Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots
John & Vicki Gloor
Katrina Wyatt & Mother-in-law
Scott Patrick & Mustangs of the NRV
Melissa Burcham Lyles
Marie Rorrer & Larry Estep
Wanda & Danny Perkins
Jenny, Ray & Noah Whitlow
William & Robin Hurst
Vicki Brackett & Hal