Angel Simmons has the perfect name for the Christmas season — and the perfect job, too.
In her role, along with her husband Shawn, as corps officer at the Suffolk Corps of the Salvation Army, this “Angel” has the enviable job of helping make Christmas happen for thousands of children in Suffolk. In fact, she said one of her favorite Christmas memories is being able to see parents realize their children will have gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.
“I love working for the toy shop,” she said. “Being able to get what they asked for, it truly touches them and lifts their spirits. It always makes me want to do it again the next year.”
This year, one organization reached out and especially wanted to adopt an entire family, Simmons said. “They made sure this family had everything they needed,” she said. “That blessed me this year.”
Simmons has special memories of Christmas and the Salvation Army dating back to her childhood. When she was 11 years old, her father died, and the family was attending the Salvation Army church at that time.
“Because of what happened to our family that year, a lot of people pulled together and got really cool stuff for us,” Simmons said about herself and her sister. “We came downstairs Christmas morning and it was like a Christmas wonderland.”
Her mom was especially touched that year, Simmons said. “I remember her crying, because she knew how hard that year was for us.”
Now that she has her own children — a kindergartener and twin first-graders — she has also seen the excitement of Christmas from a parent’s perspective.
“The best Christmas for me was when they were 3 and 4,” Simmons said. “That was the first year they kind of understood opening their gifts, and I remember how excited they were on Christmas morning.”
Simmons hopes people support the Cheer Fund this year, because it helps to purchase toys that are distributed by the Salvation Army.
“I’ve never been to a place where anyone gave that much to our Christmas drive,” Simmons said. “Knowing that you have that to go by makes it a little less frightening when you come to a new place, knowing how many kids are blessed.”
The Cheer Fund is an annual effort by the Suffolk community to provide toys for children from disadvantaged families. The Cheer Fund provides approximately $40,000 to the Salvation Army to purchase toys every year.
To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bring it to the newspaper’s temporary office, 157 N. Main St., from 8:30 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.
Online giving is available through the link on the Suffolk Cheer Fund Facebook page. For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 757-539-3437.