NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Community sponsors Secret Santa for more than 200 children in Chesapeake

Posted at 9:15 PM, Dec 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-22 15:23:17-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Bicycles, dolls, an assortment of toys and a lot of wrapped presents. At Covenant Methodist Church in Chesapeake sat hundreds of presents for more than 200 children who otherwise wouldn't have anything to open on Christmas.

It's all thanks to Western Branch Philanthropy, a group started by a woman who just wanted to help others.

For many parents, Christmas is stressful. The fear of not being able to afford to buy presents for their children can be terrifying.

"It was very very stressful. I felt very bad. I could do nothing but cry," said Kimberly Keyes.

There were tears Friday night, but happy ones. Keyes and her husband walked out with bags of presents and a bicycle, which they attached to the roof of their car.

"For my four kids and my sister's three. Pretty much all seven of them have been taken care of and it's been very emotional," said Keyes.

Western Branch Philanthropy put everything together. After people reach out to the group saying they need help, Karen Pineger, the founder, will secretly pair them up with a sponsor. She asks for the children to make a wishlist of things they'd like for Christmas and the sponsor goes shopping and wraps the presents.

Related: Portsmouth nonprofit makes Christmas happen by collecting $15,000 worth of toys for local families 

"We live in a wonderful community and they've come together and sponsored more than 200 children. More than 150 sponsors. It's all out of love wanting to give back to the community," said Pinegar.

Friday night, parents came to Covenant Method Church and were shocked at all the presents ready for their children.

"I'm glad there are people out there who care because I feel blessed for everything," said Keyes.

Last Christmas, Pinegar said they were able to sponsor about 150 children. Her goal for next Christmas is 300.

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"This is my passion and... there's nothing I'd rather see than watch each of these children on Christmas morning opening their gifts. This is Christmas for me," said Pinegar.