A Christmas Wish That Keeps on Giving All Year Long

Hailey Moore is 12 years old. You’d think like most 12 year olds she would’ve been thinking of video games and other teen fun things for Christmas gifts. Instead, for Christmas, her “wish list” was quite different.

As Moore headed to downtown one night, she saw homeless people along the streets of Richmond sleeping in the cold, out in the rain and snow. It disturbed her. It gave her a thought and a profound wish for the homeless men and women she saw on the dark streets of the city. She told her mom, Heather Lawson, that for Christmas she wanted others to only give her blankets for the homeless as her Christmas presents.

Moore remembers what struck her most. “There was a homeless man on the street with a sign that read ‘anything can help’” and she asked her mother if there was something she could do. She could only think of them not even having the warmth of a bed. The idea came to her that she wanted to help those who were on the streets.

“I didn’t want anything for Christmas, I just wanted blankets to give out,” Moore said. She asked all her friends and family to give her blankets instead of the presents they would normally give her. She asked them to give her the blankets early so she could deliver them for Christmas to the homeless population.

Though she began her collection late in holiday season, she and her family did manage to collect 25 blankets to take to an area homeless shelter. They collected new blankets and gently used clean blankets from folks in the area. They even received a few electric blankets for the drive.

The 7-11 in Enon did help the family collect some blankets. They allowed Moore to set up a collection box in their store and this helped to collect more blankets.

Moore, a student at Elizabeth Davis Middle School, is an avid volunteer and works at her church, Bermuda Baptist, and has helped pass out food at the Gathering Grounds/Chesterfield Food Bank some Fridays, so she is no stranger to helping others in need.

Lawson said the blanket collection was a very good lesson for her children. “It was a chance for Hailey and her brother to get an opportunity to see a world they might otherwise not have ever seen,” Lawson shared. Moore and her brother, Evan Lawson, had the opportunity to take the blankets to the homeless in Richmond.

The family took their blankets to The Healing Place at 700 Dinwiddie Ave. in the city. The Healing Place is a part of the CARITAS shelter to stability organization. The Healing Place provides a pathway to recovery for men struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. The nationally recognized recovery program is a place where the homeless can get a chance to make a new start.

“They let me pass out the blankets at the center,” Moore said. “We got to walk around and see how they lived.” Lawson said it was a great experience for the family. “It was a whole new world that Heather hadn’t seen,” she said.

They passed out the blankets along with little Merry Christmas tags. “We called our drive ‘I’m Dreaming of a Warm Christmas’ as our theme for this year,” Moore said.

Moore has a vision to make the blanket drive a larger donation for next year. She plans to start earlier next year and has a goal to collect even more blankets. “Our goal for next Christmas is to collect at least 80 blankets,” Moore said. “We’d really like to collect at least 100 blankets.”

She would like to get more people involved next year – she’d like to work with her church, her middle school and local businesses in Chester so that they can collect even more donations to take to the homeless.

“It made me feel good and it was fun,” Moore recounted. Lawson believes her daughter “got to see the true meaning of Christmas.”

Moore wants to do the blanket drive each holiday season. So, next year she wants to get more blankets and get the word out to more people. “It was a nice thing to do,” Moore shared. “We hope you can all donate next year to keep the homeless warm.”

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