By Danielle Ozbat
Christmas Mothers from past and present gathered at the historic Magnolia Grange museum house last Tuesday to announce Deborah Koller as this year’s Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother.
Koller – who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in microbiology and a doctorate in molecular genetics – has been with the Christmas Mother committee for four years and is honored to be chosen.
“It’s an honor, a little humbling [and] I just hope I can serve the organization well,” Koller said. “We sort of work as the interface … between the organization and the public, letting people know about us and how they can help.”
Linda King, current chairperson for the Christmas Mother committee and the 2011 Christmas Mother, said Koller will be a great representative to the community.
“Well, especially today, our new Christmas Mother looks the role, she looks beautiful,” King said. “We always try to select someone who has been on the committee for a while and [who] we know will be able to convey our mission and be a great representative to the community.”
The Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother program was started in 1972 by Lucy Corr – the superintendent of the Chesterfield County Welfare Department at the time – and there has been a Christmas Mother every year since 1979. The committee currently has 55 volunteers, and its mission is to help families and elders that are in need during the holiday season.
Though Dec. 25 may be Christmas to most people, for the Chesterfield-Colonial Heights Christmas Mother committee, it is the first two weeks of December, when they hand out gifts to families and the elderly in need. The committee begins purchasing items, such as toys, books, clothes, and gift certificates, in January, and the Christmas Mother is usually chosen in October.
Sarah Tatum, who has been the coordinator for the Christmas Mother program for 18 years and was last year’s Christmas Mother, talked about how it felt to give back to the community.
“There just [are] no words to describe how special that is,” Tatum said, “to know that on Christmas morning when you’re enjoying yourself with your family … that you’ve done something to make it possible for those that wouldn’t have Christmas otherwise.”
Koller shared that the program helped over 1,600 families last year and 1,300 families have registered for this year.
“It’s very rewarding,” Koller said of helping families in need, “I’ve been at the center a lot, and some of the families are just so grateful. They’re crying, we’re crying … it’s very rewarding and it’s nice to be able to give back.”