Volunteer enjoys helping at Christmas

Published 6:06 pm Friday, November 26, 2021

Barbara Crespo has been volunteering with the Salvation Army for as long as she can remember.

“It kind of started back when I was a little girl,” she said. “I went to the Salvation Army in Philadelphia. My mother was in the Salvation Army, and she was a single parent, and my brother and me and her were always at the Salvation Army doing something.”

Crespo said the volunteerism stayed with her even through 20 years in the military. She and her husband lived in Florida for 18 years and volunteered with the Salvation Army through many hurricanes and other disasters.

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“If it’s in your blood, it’s in your blood,” she said. “It’s just the way you were raised. Usually, if you grow up in that environment, you take it into your adulthood.”

Although Crespo, who now lives in Suffolk, volunteers all year long, she especially likes to help out at Christmastime.

“You kind of get a warm and good feeling when you do that,” she said. “You see the smiles on the kids’ faces, and the parents themselves are grateful and thankful.”

Crespo said she would encourage anyone to volunteer at the Salvation Army.

“Don’t be afraid to step up and say, ‘Where can I help?’” she said. “It’s satisfying to me. It’s the feeling that I know I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

The Salvation Army has an assortment of Christmas programs designed to help families and seniors in need. To help give out toys, one of its biggest partners is the Suffolk News-Herald Cheer Fund.

The Cheer Fund was started by the newspaper during the Great Depression to provide clothes and food for needy families. It eventually began providing toys for children and teamed up with the Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army.

These days, this program of the newspaper is its own nonprofit, with an independent board, and each year collects roughly $40,000 from individuals, groups and foundations in the community. This money goes directly to the purchase of toys by the Salvation Army.

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper office, 157 N. Main St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like.

Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your picture as you hand it to one of our staff.