Salvation Army combines teddy bears, tea for charity

For more than a decade, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary of Williamsburg has teddy bears, tea and other treats alongside a fundraiser to support its ongoing mission. The latest iteration filled Bruton Parish Hall Thursday afternoon.

“It’s about reaching out to those in need, offering a glimmer of hope,” said Lt. Whitney Lind, a leader of the local affiliation who spoke at the event to promote the Salvation Army’s mission of compassion.

Tickets sell out each year; this year’s event hosted 120 people. Women from Williamsburg Landing, Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, Patriot’s Colony and other local organizations sell handmade teddy bears for $5-45 to benefit the Salvation Army. The fundraiser’s silent auction featured gift certificates for stores and restaurants throughout the area; many of the participants overbid on the value of those up for grabs.

“We take care of a lot of children,” said President Alice Herring, emphasizing the driving force underlying the event’s laughter and conversation.

The organization’s current focus, the Angel Tree program, helps area families afford Christmas gifts for their children. The organization’s recent Apple Tree endeavor saw more than 500 children receive new backpacks and other school supplies at the start of the school year. Other services include outreach to the Envoy nursing home and providing transitional housing for those in need.

Elisabeth Reiss, actress, philanthropist and wife of Colonial Williamsburg President and CEO Mitchell Reiss, served as the event’s honorary chairwoman. Her ties to the Salvation Army date back to 1912, when her grandmother worked to sell the organization’s War Cry newspaper and met her grandfather in an English pub during the process.

“I was thrilled when Alice asked me,” she said. “They do good things here in the community.”

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Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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