With the reindeer resting up for Santa’s big trip this weekend,
the Fredericksburg Fire Department stepped in to get St. Nick to Mary’s Shelter
in Fredericksburg Dec. 17 for the fire department’s Turnout for Toys Stocking
“The Fredericksburg Fire Department coordinated a program in the
community to support the residents of Mary’s Shelter this Christmas,” said
shelter volunteer Elena Doyle. “They put out the word to local businesses and
community … and collected donations of coats, shoes, clothing, diapers and toys
for our residents and our respite families as well.”
For the past 10 years, Mary’s Shelter has provided room and board
for mothers and their children, and provides educational opportunities to help
the women get back on their feet.
According to Sgt. Johnny Leach II, the firefighters got the idea
for the program while they were sitting around the firehouse reflecting on how
fortunate their own children are. They wanted to reach out to the community in
a different way than when they respond to a call.
Thanks to the efforts of the fire department, Fredericksburg
businesses and the community — including contributions from several churches
and schools — more than 85 women and children received presents and needed
It was one of several Christmas blessings the shelter has
received this year. According to founder Kathleen Wilson, the organization
recently received a generous donation from MacDoc Property Management in the
form of a free, multi-year rental agreement for a business and residential
property on Princess Ann Street.
“We have since taken over these properties, which now gives us an
amazing office space with rooms for our classes and babysitting, storage,
women’s clothing closets and more,” said Wilson. “In addition, attached to the
office building are two homes. These homes are a dream come true and will
allow us to save funds to purchase our next home.”
One unit is being renovated into an apartment for a resident who
is expecting twins in February. Volunteers helping to get the apartment ready
were thrilled with a surprise donation of dressers, playpens and beds.
Mary’s Shelter has started a respite program for single mothers
working and living on their own who fall on tough times. The respite fund and
their network of donors helps these women stay out of the cycle of homelessness
while they work to build a life for themselves and their children.
“It’s just been amazing,” said Wilson. “We could not keep these
doors open without this community.”
The organization now has gained another ally in its mission. Sgt.
Johnny Leach II and the fire department hope that Saturday’s event marks the
beginning of a relationship that will continue throughout the year.