Dumfries Vice Mayor’s Surprise Gift of Christmas Turkey Brings Tears, Help to Family
– December 23, 2013 11:26 am
DUMFRIES, Va. – When Angela Armstrong was standing in a checkout line at a Walmart store in Dumfries she never expected this.
After a long day at her government job in Arlington, following a trip to church, and after shopping with her husband and three cranky children for last-minute Christmas gifts, the Triangle wife, mother of five, and new grandmother, was picked to receive a free holiday turkey.
“We were just standing there and there he came,” said Armstrong. “He didn’t know us and we didn’t know him.”
The family was approached by Vice Mayor Willie J. Toney of Dumfries after he spotted them in the checkout line. He asked if they had purchased a turkey for Christmas. When they told him “not yet,” he handed over a gift card good for any turkey in the store.
“I saw them and I wanted to help,” said Toney. “It’s all about giving back at this time of year.”
So, the Armstrongs accepted and thanked Toney, and then went and picked out a 23-pound bird for Christmas dinner. It will be enough to bring together mom and dad, and their family of five children, and a 3-week-old grandchild.
Armstrong cried after she received the gift. She’s not poor, but the government shutdown in October took a toll on the family expenses. Plus, after losing his job locally, Armstrong’s husband found new employment that requires him to travel frequently, so being together at Christmas will mean a lot of the family.
“I spend at least $200 a week on food and it keeps going up. Gas is expensive, everything is expensive. We are a middle-class family. We always give to the church and help those in need. We never qualify for any programs nor do we expect anything from anyone,” she explained.
She added that those who live in Northern Virginia must have a hardened character in order to deal with long commutes and terrible traffic. Maybe resilient would be a better word to describe Armstrong, as she also recently had a tumor removed.
Toney wasn’t wearing a Santa Claus suit that night in Walmart, just a pair of jeans and a hat, said Armstrong. The gift card was one of 40 Toney passed out.
“I do this once a year,” said Toney.
He pays for the turkeys out of his own pocket.
“Up until then it really didn’t feel like Christmas, and now it does,” said Armstrong.