NORFOLK, Va. - The Spirit of Christmas was on full display in Hampton Roads, Va., as CBN and Operation Blessing shared the joy of the season with families in the local community -- complete with food, gifts, and a lot of love.
"It's come to show love and unity this time of the year," volunteer James Washington, Jr. told CBN News.
A choir of little angels and a live nativity just were a few of the highlights of "Christmas at 34th Street," a CBN-sponsored outreach in Norfolk's Park Place section of the city. It is an area the ministry has been serving for several years.
"This is a very underserved community," said CBN's Mary Allsbrook. "The needs are great and when we first started we did focus groups to find out what the needs were so we try to meet those needs by having events just like this."
Cars lined the road for a drive-thru gift and toy giveaway which included a Superbook Christmas box filled with DVDs, toy figurines, and activity books for the entire family.
"It's wonderful to know that people love you and that they are in the neighborhood to help you," said Norfolk resident Arlene James-Hill.
Many warmed themselves with hot cider and fresh baked goods prepared by Operation Blessing volunteers.
Pastor Nathan Butler of Victorious Living Church of God in Christ, who was once addicted to drugs, says the ministry is making a difference.
"It's a great thing," said Butler. "It's a good thing and yes can't you feel the love of Jesus? Just joy radiating in my soul and if just one person, if just one would look up and say, 'You know after all them people did, all that effort I see, I'm gonna come on trust God myself. Maybe he can do for me what he's done for him.'"
More support for the local community extended to London Oaks apartments in Portsmouth the following day.
"With the pandemic, food has been one of the needs in the community and to have CBN along with Operation Blessing just to provide meals for the residents --it's a wonderful opportunity and we're really excited about that," said Resident Services Coordinator DaShawn Johnson.
For many bags of groceries, which included a frozen turkey and all the trimmings such as stuffing, cranberry sauce and green beans as well as gifts of winter hats and gloves, came at just the right time.
"I was struggling," Portsmouth resident Nicole Staton told CBN News. I'm on my last hundred dollars' worth of EBT to put in my house and that turkey, the presents -- I ain't even have enough money for the presents and they came through and blessed me - especially for hats, coats, gloves, everything - my kids needed all that."
As the holiday outreach concluded many were touched by the outpouring of generosity of CBN and Operation Blessing.
"Y'all putting the effort to show us that y'all care about the people, "said Norfolk resident Shamakae Braughan. "So, that means a lot to me. Not people that look down on us 'oh who cares about them'? "Y'all actually care about us."