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Richmond nonprofit needs Christmas miracle

on December 20, 2013

It’s less than a week until Christmas and Burgundie Spears is worried.

She hopes to give away hundreds of toys, clothing and hot meals during the annual Christmas in Richmond on Dec. 25, but donations are scarce. And unless Spears receives a Christmas miracle of about 500 toys, many children will be left with no dolls, fire trucks or shiny new bikes on Wednesday morning.

“It makes me really sad and bothered that we don’t have enough resources to take care of our community,” Spears said.

“Richmond is sometimes forgotten about, which is why I started the program. But it’s challenging when it’s hard to get the resources to be able to provide for the recipients.”

The annual event serves about 700 families at two distribution sites – the Nevin Community Center and the North Richmond Senior Center.

Since donations are so limited, Spears must consider canceling the North Richmond event, even though many rely on it for the holiday meal and toys they can’t afford. She has only a quarter of the toys needed to distribute at the Nevin Community Center, leaving Spears and her staff digging into their own pockets to try and fill the void.

While they receive some sponsorship, the majority of the agency’s donations come from area residents.

“Our program is very grassroots and we have plenty people who are able to volunteer, but they might not have the financial resources to donate a toy,” Spears said.

“We’ve never had to turn kids away and we really hope the donations come in throughout the weekend to at least equip the one facility.”

As some parents struggle to provide everyday necessities for their children, they simply can’t afford to fill any Christmas wishes. Christmas in Richmond helps fill that void for many in the tiny community of North Richmond, said Corrine Sain, program director at the Neighborhood House of North Richmond.

The smiles on the family’s faces when each child leaves with gifts are priceless, Sain said.

“It means so much for the low income community, “she said. “Some of them don’t have transportation and can’t even take their kids to see Santa Claus, but Christmas in Richmond provides those activities. I’m hoping people will remember the true meaning of Christmas and be a blessing to those who really need it.”

The idea for Christmas in Richmond began when Spears was a sophomore at Howard University in Washington D.C. The Richmond native decided then to give up her own traditional Christmas and start collecting toys and clothing for those less fortunate. The annual event became registered as a nonprofit last year.

“I’m just really waiting for a miracle, Spears said. “We’ve been growing and we have a soft spot for both locations. It’s just become a tradition.”


WHAT: The 8th annual Christmas in Richmond. Donations will be distributed from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25 at the Nevin Community Center, 598 Nevin Ave.

TO GIVE: Donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel, 3150 Garrity Way. All donations are tax deductible.

For more information or to arrange a toy or contribution pick-up, call 510-932-6817.

To sign up to volunteer, visit

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