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Roanoke resident continues 16-year holiday tradition of donating to families in need

Melvin Ward takes food bags to The Rescue Mission of Roanoke on Sunday afternoon.
Melvin Ward takes food bags to The Rescue Mission of Roanoke on Sunday afternoon.(Will Thomas)
Published: Dec. 19, 2021 at 7:22 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Father Christmas usually has a couple surprises up the sleeves of his red coat. He’s a man who’s known across the world for being jolly and kind.

“When you are out there, you’re seeing the smiles that’s on peoples faces. And seeing people, it gets emotional at times, like when you see how many people really need help,” said Melvin Ward.

For the last 16 years, Ward has made giving out Christmas presents a tradition. 10 years in Richmond, the last 6 in Roanoke.

“Last year we had over a thousand gifts, it’s usually a thousand mark.”

Ward’s elves are in the shape of family and friends - community donations make his work possible.

“It’s just a beautiful thing. My friends, my family and the community donate these things so I’m able to go out into the streets.”

And while this generosity might seem short lived, Ward knows it can’t be - need exists everyday.

“People still need at that time, so that’s why I want to make it my business. We do this for Christmas real big but also too, January, February, March, April, every day, every night of every month. We keep on doing what we have to do.”

And so Santa’s job will continue - because even on the 25th, the work won’t stop.

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