Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

VFW donates presents to those in need
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Dec 19, 2012, 14:20

photo by Caitlin Davis George Spruill ,Senior Vice Commander, left and Commander George Friday of Post 622 In Petersburg with $5000 worth of toys.

As he looked at the piles of stuffed animals, games, bikes and books being unloaded from a Wal-mart trailer sitting outside VFW Post 622 in Petersburg, Commander George Friday smiled.

He and other members of the VFW were getting ready to make a drive and make a difference for a group of children at Jefferson Elementary School in Sussex County.

“We wanted to make a difference and bring a smile and joy to the kids within that region,” Friday said as he looked at over $5,000 worth of toys the post began collecting in October.

Fort Lee Memorial Chapel donated $2,800 towards the toy drive and Columbia Gas of Virginia donated $2,500 towards Post 622’s quarterly “Feed a Stranger” events.

“We are so excited to partner with the different organizations to help out because we can’t do it alone,” Friday said.

Post 622’s Sr. Vice Commander George Spruill, has been traveling to Jefferson Elementary in Sussex for three years to help educate the children on Veterans Day as an Army retiree, but this year will be the first winter holiday trip.

Friday said Sussex is one of the poorest communities in the Commonwealth, which is why the VFW chose to bring the toys there.

According to a January reports from the Virginia Department of Education, Sussex County had almost 83 percent of students participating in the Free and Reduced School Lunch program in 2011. U.S. Census data from 2010 shows that 21.2 percent of families with children under 18 years of age are below the poverty level. The census data also shows that 33.6 percent of families with a single female householder,with children under 18 years of age are below the poverty level.

“It just makes me feel good to be able to help those kids,” Friday said. “We like to help those who are in need and not those who are in greed.”

Friday said the VFW Post has now adopted Jefferson Elementary to help in the years to come. For Friday, giving the toys to the children hits home, as he once went through tough times.

“It makes me feel great,” Friday said. “I’m thrilled to make a difference. I came from a poverty family in Jackson, Mississippi, and I love to give back. The Lord has blessed me...I’m financially stable and I want to give back to the community.”

On Monday afternoon, Spruill and Friday, along with other members of the VFW were getting ready for an early Christmas at Jefferson.

“We’re going to play Santa Claus,” Friday said.

Staff at Jefferson Elementary were not available for comment on the donation.

Friday said Monday’s trip to Sussex was not the end of the post’s holiday activities. With the abundance of donations, the post has some funds left over and are looking to sponsor 10 to 15 more families this holiday season. Friday said he is going to turn to the local Department of Social Services to identify families to help.

“We are not done giving,” Friday said. “It is more of a blessing to give than to receive.”

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