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Santa Fund helps Nelson County families in need

Families in Nelson County turn to Santa Fund vouchers when an unexpected cost stresses the family budget, a school official said.

So far this academic year, the Nelson school system has handed out 53 vouchers through the program. The vouchers go toward buying essentials such as clothing, coats, shoes, school supplies, eyeglasses and medicine.

“Simply put, something needed to be placed on hold for the family’s budget to be viable,” said Sandra Irby, Nelson’s director of special education and student services and coordinator of the division’s Santa Fund. “Stretching last year’s coat and shoes can only work out up until the child had fully outgrown an article of clothing. Most often, parents need to get warm winter shoes, coats, hats and gloves to replace items that children have outgrown.”

The Santa Fund, now in its 125th year, is co-sponsored by The Daily Progress and radio station WINA-AM in conjunction with The United Way of Greater Charlottesville. The annual fundraising drive, with a goal this year of $175,000, kicked off Thanksgiving Day and runs through mid-January. So far, the community has donated about $55,500.

Nelson County served 103 children last school year through Santa Fund vouchers, according to the local United Way.

In addition to Nelson, the fund serves children in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Buckingham, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison and Orange counties.

School teachers, administrators and employees, as well as social workers, faith leaders and health care professionals, can refer a family to the Santa Fund.

Families do have pass an income test to qualify, Irby said.

More than half of Nelson County’s nearly 1,700 students this school year qualify for free or reduced-price lunch or other forms of economic assistance.

Participating retailers who accept the Santa Fund vouchers include Marshalls stores in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and Glen Allen; Roses in Albemarle County, Waynesboro and Ashland; and TJ Maxx in Albemarle, Culpeper, Richmond, Harrisonburg and Staunton.

Also taking vouchers are Kid to Kid in Charlottesville; Shoe Show in Orange, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg and Madison Heights; Second Times the Charm in Orange; and Terry’s Place in Orange.

CVS Pharmacies in Albemarle, Charlottesville and Fluvanna County assist with needed medicines and LensCrafters, Drs. Nelson and Clauss Optometrist and The Spectacle Shop in Charlottesville and Albemarle County assist with eyewear.

Contributions may be mailed to The Santa Fund, 806 E. High St., Charlottesville, VA 22902. Donations also may be made at


» David and Gerry Callaghan, $100

» In memory of Daddy and Mama Dear, $50

» In honor of the Westwood-Hardwood Wolf Pack, $30

» In loving memory of Gramma and Herbie, $50

» In honor of Fletcher, Zee, Sam, Charlie and Phebe, $50

» John Beard, $250

» In honor of my family and looking forward to two more additions in 2020, $100

» With love for all the children in need. Helen and Bob Landel, $500

» Mary Van Miller, $200

» To honor my family, $30

» In memory of Pete Seiler, Jeff Irving, Dan and Mary Irby, Stuart and Ruth Seiler, $150

» Harry and Kari Miller, $100

» To honor Lewis Summer grandson, $75

» In memory of Randall Pennington, $100

» Karen and Thomas Roberts, $300

» For my family, anonymous, $100

» Lee and Linda Coogle, $250

» Anonymous, $50

» Barbara and Don, $150

» Billy McCarty, $100

» The Falcon Club, $300

Today’s total: $2,960

Running total: $55,519.86

Goal: $175,000

To reach goal: $119,480.14


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