The needs of the poor are great in Prince William County.
The Salvation Army’s Prince William Corps and InsideNoVa’s Christmas Basket are addressing those needs.
In fiscal year 2019, the Prince William Corps of the Salvation Army spent more than $41,493 assisting 139 families thus far with rent and utilities. It has assisted 2,203 individuals with food. And it already has more than 1,100 children signed up to receive Christmas assistance with toys and new clothing.
Sgts. Anthony and Marjorie Rowe took over the leadership of the Salvation Army’s Prince William Corps at the start of the year. The Salvation Army brought the Virginia natives together. Anthony is from Staunton and Marjorie from Charlottesville. They met in Staunton 10 years ago and have been married nine years.
“The needs are great,” Anthony Rowe said. “It just keeps going all year long.”
“Rent assistance, utility assistance, even for Thanksgiving, for Christmas – the need keeps on going,” said Marjorie Rowe.
The Salvation Army takes applications on the first of each month. Marjorie Rowe said that within five minutes they have more than a page of names looking for help.
“We have more need than we have funds for,” she said. “I’ve never seen the need be so great. It’s utilities; it’s rental; it’s the food pantry. We have people come in who don’t even need an appointment just to come in to get food.”
Marjorie Rowe said they have seen more need here than they have seen at other duty stations. She speculates that it might be because of the high cost of living in Prince William County. “I look at the rents they pay and I wondered, ‘How in the world are they making it?’ It breaks my heart. So, we hope we can help these parents with Christmas and Thanksgiving. The Christmas Basket is making it possible. That’s one less worry off of that mom.”
InsideNoVa has joined with the Salvation Army for the 47th year of the annual Christmas Basket fundraiser. Former Potomac News publisher Paul Muse created the donation drive in 1972. The Potomac News later merged with the Manassas Journal Messenger, and after the combined newspaper closed in 2012, InsideNoVa stepped up to continue the Christmas Basket tradition.
“We’re delighted to continue to support the Salvation Army’s efforts,” said Bruce Potter, publisher of InsideNoVa. “Even in this wealthy community, the need is immense, and we appreciate the help from all of our readers who contribute every year.”
Year-round, the Salvation Army takes care of those in need.
When people have a fire, they turn to the Salvation Army for vouchers for clothing and furniture.
During the summer, The Salvation Army sends kids to camp.
The Angel Tree program also is underway. The program for disadvantaged children ages12 and under encourages community members to pick an angel ornament for a child who has requested three items for Christmas and buy those gifts for them.
“This gives donors an opportunity to buy for a specific child,” Marjorie Rowe said.
Angel Trees can be found throughout the county, including at Potomac Mills and Manassas Mall, as well as Walmart stores.
The Salvation Army also encourages businesses to consider putting up Angel Trees.
“If a company wants to adopt 25 angels then we know they are definitely adopted out,” Marjorie Rowe said.
For all the good the Salvation Army does – it all cost money.
The Salvation Army kettles for the holidays have already been deployed. And the Christmas Basket will soon be underway.
“The Christmas Basket is so important to us. We serve so many families at Christmas. We would not be able to do it without the donors from this fundraising effort,” Marjorie Rowe said. “There is just no way.”
“We wouldn’t be here,” Anthony Rowe added.
Majorie Rowe said when the couple arrived in Prince William, the local advisory council told them about the Christmas Basket. “I was amazed about this program,” she said. “We were so excited to find out.”
She said she was impressed to hear about the many anonymous donors.
Marjorie Rowe said her now grown children were asked when they were young to adopt an angel child. “My kids also knew they would wake up on Christmas and get what they wanted. But I wanted them to know they were helping some other kid wake up and get what they wanted for Christmas,” she said. “They were giving a child a smile.”
“It’s the best feeling to know you are helping a kid. It really is,” she said.