Making sure no one is left out at Christmas

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Tara hasn’t had a Christmas since 2013, when she was six years old. She’s a teenager now, living at the Greenbrier Valley Children’s Home. 

“We asked her when her last Christmas was,” says Morgan Ormsbee, who works for Children’s Home Society. “She couldn’t remember at first.”

“Then she said, ‘When did that movie Frozen come out? I got that little moose thing.’” 

Ormsbee says Tara, whose real name has been withheld to protect her identity and privacy, isn’t alone in that regard. “A lot of the kids here haven’t ever had a Christmas.”

A number of organizations in the region and across the state step forward at Christmas to provide gifts for children including The Greenbrier’s Dream Tree, Communities in Schools Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, church groups, and more. Collectively, they distribute thousands of presents. 

A group of women in the Greenbrier Valley, many of whom are members of The Greenbrier’s Sporting Club, began a “Santa’s Workshop” three years ago in partnership with Greenbrier County Schools to help provide gifts for children whose needs fall through the cracks.

This year, they are providing Tara with her first Christmas in a decade. It will include wrapped presents, a stocking, and winter clothing. 

“This is the equivalent of going to Disneyland for these kids,” Ormsbee says, on the verge of tears. “Things like this mean the world.” 

Aubrina Mumford hands gifts to Morgan Ormsbee for delivery to the Greenbrier Children’s Shelter. One recipient of the gifts will enjoy her first Christmas in ten years. Photo by RealWV.

Santa’s Workshop 

Aubrina Mumford lives in White Sulphur Springs. A few years ago, she and her friends decided they wanted to give back to kids in need in the community. 

“We wanted to make sure kids wouldn’t wake up without a Christmas,” she says. “We know there are organizations like Angel Tree out there and that’s fantastic. We also had some insight that there were kids who may be falling through the cracks through no fault of anyone.” So they reached out to Greenbrier County Schools to see if they could help fill those cracks at Christmas. 

Aubrina works with Debbie McClintic Brown and Ann McClung to host Santa’s Workshop for kids who may fall through the cracks at Christmas. Photo by RealWV.

Debbie McClintic Brown is the Director of Secondary Education for Greenbrier County Schools. She says the program is very beneficial to local families. “This group comes in and does the last-minute needs. We’ve had students move into the area recently or maybe those who didn’t know about other organizations. We work directly with the counselors to fill in the gaps towards the end and make sure no one was missed.” They provide gifts for children in every school in the country. 

This year, Kevin Workman let them set up Santa’s Workshop beside Greenbrier Valley Physical Therapy (where the adjoining gym used to be located). In a process spanning the last month, the ladies raised money, organized a shopping list, sourced the children’s wishes through local stores, and wrapped it all up in a bow. 

“We have some magnificent women like Ann McClung and others who make this possible,” Aubrina adds. “Some of the ladies contribute, some help organize, and some help shop.” 

Ann appreciates the sentiment but is quick to say, “Aubrina is the driving force behind this project. We don’t Amazon it; we work with local stores to make sure kids get equal amounts. We provide for siblings of all the kids too. There are so many needs. We should work to provide for the needs of children all year. And this wouldn’t happen without Aubrina’s hard work.”

“There is plenty of need,” says Aubrina. “Every kid needs an advocate, someone on their side.”

Morgan Ormsbee shares the story of Tara, who hadn’t received a present since the movie Frozen came out in 2013. Thanks to Santa’s Worskhop, she will enjoy a Christmas this year. Photo by RealWV.

“It’s magical”

On Monday, guidance counselors and from across the county came to pick up the presents for delivery to the children. Morgan Ormsbee, with Children’s Home Society, spoke passionately about the impact of gifts on children in need. 

“For the kids to know they’re loved no matter what, it’s priceless. They’ve only learned that no one cares about them,” she shares. “But when Christmas comes through, you’ve proven that you care. It’s magical.”

After she left, Aubrina and Ann were beaming with joy. “That experience is worth every hour we’ve spent on it.”

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