Local homeless shelter in urgent need of help before Christmas

 There is an urgent need for help in getting gift bags together for a local organization.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — There is an urgent need for help in getting gift bags together for a local organization.

They are called gift bags, but in reality, they’re a whole lot more than that. The people who get them are those who use the Union Mission in Norfolk for a place to stay or eat on a daily basis. It’s a shelter and a sanctuary for some 400 men, women and children in Hampton Roads.

The staff, including Linda Jones, is working around the clock to make sure Christmas is anything but lonely for them. Jones also wants to make sure everyone gets a gift and that’s where the community comes in by donating some or all of the items.

“There are Christmas candies in each bag. It’s a brown paper bag and decorated,” said Jones. “And a wallet. We are trying to help them get jobs, and they do get money, and they have no wallet to put the money in, so we want to give them that as a little gift. And you can get that at the dollar store or Walmart.”

Jones is also looking for donations like daytime planners, notepads, along with manicure sets.

“This is so they can look nice. We are teaching them resume writing and interview skills and how to dress for success. You may not think about it, a homeless person needing to keep their hands nice,” Jones said.

The mission is also asking for a $5 gift card to any fast food restaurant and a bus card for those needing transportation to and from interviews.

Anthony Robertson says he is truly thankful for the Union Mission Ministries after his rough couple of years. He has been living at the shelter for about four months.

“I had Christmas last year by myself in my pickup. I was living out of it.”

Robertson lost his mother, father and brother all within a few years of each other.

“It’s really tough,” said Robertson. “I lost my whole family now.”

He was homeless, but met a woman he’d later propose to, but she passed away soon after.

“My fiance had a massive heart attack, she was 50 years of age and she died a year and a half ago. It’s been really hard. But I walk and I look forward and I look up all the time,” said Robertson.

This holiday season he’s grateful for the warm bed and the roof over his head, but more for the people, the friends he calls family — a family he’ll enjoy a joyful meal with this Christmas.

If you’d like to donate to the mission, click here.