( 10 Votes )

Toys Happy FaceIn a world seemingly divided in every way, hundreds came together to spread good will Saturday (Dec. 2).

Fluvanna’s faith community continued its more than 40-year legacy of giving to the less fortunate with the Happy Face event at Central Elementary. The Fluvanna Christian Service Society coordinates toy, food, cash and coat donations from the community to provide holiday cheer to Fluvanna’s neediest residents.

More than 200 children from 100 families crowded into the auditorium to sing Christmas carols, hear the Christmas story, answer holiday trivia and wait to see if they won a new bike or video game.

Zonita Bell sat with her three children, LaTrell, Lyric and Lamark. Bell said she relocated to Fluvanna a few months ago because she inherited a house.

A single mom, Bell works part-time and said it’s hard to make ends meet. The Happy Face event helps out a lot. “It means a great deal to me. With three kids and doing it all yourself – having bills to pay and not being supported. This is a big help,” she said.

“It’s their Christmas,” she added, nodding toward her children.

Bell said she and Lyric even had their picture taken sitting on Santa’s lap.

Chrissy Blackwell is a photographer with her own business, Shuttered Dreams. She said four years ago she got a panicked call from her pastor asking if she could take pictures of children with Santa.  At the last minute, the person who had been taking them couldn’t do it.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Blackwell, standing next to her 16-year-old daughter, Hannah. “We just love it. This starts our Christmas season.”
Families walk away with a printed copy of the photo.

“For some, it’s the only time they get a picture with Santa,” Blackwell said. “Sure, they can take a picture with their phone, but we give them an actual picture. Other places are so expensive.”

Micaela and Tyler Dawson sat in the auditorium with their 1-year-old son, Mason. Micaela, who works part time cleaning houses, said she signed up through social services. Tyler said he works servicing HVAC systems.

“It helps us financially,” Micaela Dawson said. “We are blessed to have the opportunity to have this. It will be the first year [Mason] will be able to open his presents. I can’t wait. He’s already enjoying the lights. It puts a smile on my face seeing a smile on his.”

Outside, a group huddled around boxes of fruit, whole chickens and a U-Haul truck full of bags of groceries.

They were ready to give each family on their way out a load of both fresh groceries and food staples. Each package was worth an estimated $50 to $75.

Families also got a $20 voucher good for use at three area stores: Fork Union Pharmacy, Dollar General and Jefferson Pharmacy and Flower Shoppe.

If you add it all up – the toys, coats, door prizes, vouchers, pictures and groceries – through Happy Face the community gives close to $10,000 to their neediest neighbors.

The joy provided is priceless.