The Angel Trees

The Salvation Army  & The Packwood Family are partnering and growing a tradition with Old Town Merchants

In 2015, Sandra Packwood’s daughter, Molly, and Molly’s friend Maddie, began volunteering together at The Salvation Army. This is the place Maddie’s mother Melissa Dargis worked at the time, and still works today. Maddie also happened to be employed at Packwood’s Old Town Warrenton business Do You Déjà Vu?

The connection for her and Molly with The Salvation Army was a poignant one for Packwood: “I opened my store seven years ago and one year later I got divorced. The divorce left me financially stranded and I found myself needing help.” With three children to support, Packwood had to turn somewhere for help.

“I had to rely on other resources during that time and the experience opened my eyes to how much of a life-saver these organizations are when they are needed,” Packwood continued. “I always taught my children to be giving and non-judgmental because you never know if you might be on the receiving end someday. It just so happened that we did find ourselves there.” Running the consignment shop has also put Packwood close to families who also have fallen on hard times: “there are a number of families that rely on my shop for their clothing needs.”

Just a short distance from Main Street, one can find Jared Martin, a fourth-generation officer with The Salvation Army. Inspired by his parents’ life path following The Salvation Army’s custom of self-denial, he decided to enter the ministry himself. He and his wife Rachel have built a life of ministry in Fauquier County. Both are Lieutenants with The Salvation Army.

Found in 128 countries around the world, The Salvation Army exists to meet needs whenever and wherever. The mission of The Salvation Army is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. In the United States, The Salvation Army serves 30 million unique individuals on an annual basis; “That is about one person every second,” says Martin. “We are the largest direct service agency in the United States. We help everyone who needs the help, whether they are in a temporary situation or find themselves facing extenuating circumstances, we will provide them with aid” he continues. From every dollar donated to The Salvation Army in Fauquier County, $0.82 serves people in the our community, according to the organization. In 2016, The Salvation Army served 1,745 unique individuals in Fauquier and Culpeper Counties.

In 1979, Lt. Colonels with The Salvation Army Charles and Shirley White launched the Angel Tree program in the town of Lynchburg, Virginia by providing clothing and toys for children during Christmas. The program was a success and adopted by the organization and promoted nationwide. Today, the Angel Tree program serves as a holiday lifeline for families needing a little help. “One Angel Tree client had just fled a domestic abuse situation leaving her financial support behind. She had no money to provide for her children, let alone extra money for the holidays,” says Lt. Martin. “She was extremely grateful for the support of The Salvation Army.”

Old Town Warrenton merchant Sandra Packwood has partnered with The Salvation Army to bring the Angel Trees to Old Town. “Participating merchants will be putting Angel Trees in their shops during the holiday season — they will be up by Thanksgiving. Customers can pick up a tag from any participating merchant while they shop in Old Town. The tag will include information about a child in need from our community. Their clothing size and few wish list items will be included.” Items on the tags should be dropped off, unwrapped, to the same store where the tag was picked up or directly to The Salvation Army. “We prefer to have the gifts unwrapped so parents can wrap them themselves and be part of the process,” says Packwood, “Because wrapping materials can be very costly, merchants will be providing all the wrapping supplies to the parents when they come to The Salvation Army during the Angel tree gift distribution.”

“In 2016, the Angel Trees, which served both Culpeper and Fauquier Counties, provided gifts for approximately 400 children; 250 in Fauquier County. This year  we hope to see these number rise,” says Martin. With participation from Old Town Warrenton merchants, this could very well happen.

Members of the community are encouraged to pick a name off any of the trees in merchant shops and help spread holiday cheer throughout the community this holiday season.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is also inviting people to sign up for bell ringing for Red Kettle donations during the holiday season. Bell ringers are welcome to select their location and the day/time of their two-hour shift. The Salvation Army hopes to see bell ringers in Old Town Warrenton this holiday season. Contact the Melissa Dargis with The Salvation Army at 540-349-8076 or Melissa.dargis@uss.salvationarmy.org to sign up.

The Salvation Army is always welcoming new ministry members. The best way to become part of The Salvation Army is to volunteer and donate to its cause and mission. There are many careers open to those interested in a life of ministry. Visit the salvationarmycareers.org or salvationarmyebc.org to inquire.

The Salvation Army can be found at 62 Waterloo Street, Warrenton, VA 20186 or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/.

Aimée O'Grady
About Aimée O'Grady 45 Articles
Aimée O’Grady is a freelance writer who enjoys transforming stories told by Fauquier residents into articles for Lifestyle readers. She learns more and more about our rich county with every interview she conducts. She and her husband are happy with their decision to raise their four children in Warrenton.

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