Center of Hope Shelter Manager Becomes Santa Claus on Christmas Eve

When you’re a child, Christmas is a time of fun and excitement. Wondering what Santa Claus will bring, leaving milk and cookies for the jolly old Elf, thinking you’ll stay up all night so you can catch of glimpse when Santa drops down the chimney, finally falling asleep with “visions of sugar plums” dancing in your dreams.

When you’re a child of a family that has become homeless, living in a shelter, your dreams and excitement may not be the same. But for the children whose families call The Salvation Army Center of Hope Family Shelter home, this Christmas was merry and bright thanks to Shelter Manager Julius Walker.

Mr. Walker had a plan this Christmas. On Christmas Eve he would place bags of gifts, donated by the many generous supporters of The Salvation Army, outside each family’s room so the children would find them on Christmas morning. “I wanted to go to the shelter around 10:30 Christmas Eve and deliver the gifts”, Mr. Walker says, “But it was raining like crazy so I decided to wait awhile. Then I fell asleep in front of the TV and when I woke up it was 1:30 in the morning. But I knew I had to deliver those gifts, I couldn’t let the kids in the shelter wake up Christmas morning with nothing.”

What did he do next? “I got up and drove to the shelter and I placed the bags by the door to the room of each family. Then I went home and went back to bed.”

When Mr. Walker called to check in with staff on Christmas day (The Center of Hope Family Shelter never closes, staff are on site 24 hours a day) he was told what happened when the 20 children in the shelter discovered that Santa Claus had come in the night. “The shelter monitor told me the kids were laughing and screaming and jumping up and down”, Mr. Walker says.

Why had he made the trip back to work at 1:30 in the morning? “Children deserve a Merry Christmas even if they are living in a shelter. If I can help make that happen, I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

Julius Walker, the Shelter Santa Claus.

Give A Kid a Coat is Back!

Now in its 33rd year, the annual Give a Kid a Coat campaign kicks off Friday, January 8, and runs through Saturday, February 13. Each year Give a Kid a Coat, sponsored by A Cleaner World, FOX 8, 107.5 WKZL, and Rock 92, collects thousands of coats for children and adults in need across the Triad. In the Greater Winston-Salem area last year, The Salvation Army distributed nearly 3,000 coats.

New and gently used coats may be dropped off at any area A Cleaner World location, or at The Salvation Army Center of Hope at 1255 N. Trade St. in downtown Winston-Salem. The wonderful folks at A Cleaner World will clean and make minor repairs to used coats before they are collected for distribution.

Coat distribution will begin on Friday, January 15 at the Center of Hope Food Pantry, in the lower level of the building and will continue daily from 8:30am until 10am. Coats will also be distributed at other locations to be determined. No appointment is necessary.

Virtual Red Kettle

The COVID-19 pandemic means increased need among our most vulnerable neighbors so we're making it safer and simpler than ever to help. Take the Red Kettle Challenge! Set up a virtual Kettle with your business, church, community group, or individually, and you can help Rescue Christmas from the comfort of home! Click here: Virtual Kettle and get started today! Thank you!

Touchless Red Kettle

At the iconic Red Kettle all of our signs have smart chips and QR codes that link to Apple Pay or Google Pay options. Just “bump” or scan your phone to make a digital donation and an email receipt goes directly to your phone.

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