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Dumfries Vice Mayor’s Surprise Gift of Christmas Turkey Brings Tears, Help to Family

By Uriah Kiser 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.

  • Dumfries First

    The statement, “He pays for the turkeys out of his own pocket” is not true.

    Vice-Mayor Willie J. Toney collects contributions from various sources (other elected officials, neighbors, businesses, and family). Since he collects money for this charitable event, shouldn’t he have to file something stating who the donors are? Maybe he should tell the news source the truth as to who provided the contributions.

    I wonder if the contributors knew he would take all the credit? This is a great Christmas story, too bad it ends with a politician taking too much credit.

    • Dumfries Business

      You are correct, their should have been better fact checking on the story.

  • dumfries citizen

    Mr. Toney , Thank you for all you do for the citizens of Dumfries .

    • Dumfries Business

      Is it true that you do not reside or have a business in Dumfries?

  • Godfather

    You are absolutely right. Last year he tasked, without council’s approval, to have the police department deliver the birds.
    Once a snake, always a snake especially during an election push.
    Since he used to work for the District of Columbia, he has taken pointers from Marion Barry. Little did the Dumfries residents know we have our very own Marion Barry now, how nice!!

  • Godfather

    Dumfries Citizen? How could you possibly call yourself a Dumfries Citizen when you live in Stafford?
    Oh, and by the way,
    Since you think he’s so wonderful, ask him about the birthday party he had right after he was elected and was asked to shut it down 3 times by the police. Then had the audacity to try to have the officer fired for doing his job. He wants to be above the law just like Marion Barry but…..he’s not!
    Good luck running for Mayor but one Marion Barry in this area is enough!!!

  • Godfather

    What kills me is if these politicians are so concerned with the plight of the homeless and less fortunate, which they aren’t, they would give out turkey’s and such all year long not just one day! Just another political ploy to get votes.
    Such phonies!

  • Not in Dumfries

    The article says this event took place in Dumfries but Wal-Mart is in Southbridge. Why wouldn’t Mr. Toney who is the Vice-Mayor of Dumfries work with Todos Market in Dumfries? The losers are the citizens from Dumfries and business owners who the Vice-Mayor says he represents. I agree with Dumfries First in that Vice-Mayor Toney has a good idea but he certainly shunned the business owners by not working them and the citizens of his own town by giving his gifts outside of town limits. This could have been a win-win for everyone in Dumfries had it been done the correct way.

  • Chris Caldwell

    Vice Mayor Willie J. Toney is using Christmas for his own political gain. I have been told he does not have a full time job and is having financial difficulties and he is giving out free turkeys from his own pocket. I do not believe it, he must have received the money from donations and the business/individuals should be given the credit for the free turkeys.

    In addition, he is giving out free turkeys from a location that is not even in Dumfries! How is that helping Dumfries Businesses?