A Magical Christmas Day at The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence
It’s not every day you get to watch a magic routine, but if you’re as lucky as residents of The Salvation Army Red Shield Family Residence in Philadelphia, you get a show on Christmas Day.
Danny Archer, a professional magician of 30 years and co-owner of Smoke & Mirrors Magic Theater in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., visited the Red Shield Family Residence on Christmas morning and performed a 35-minute routine for residents of the long-term emergency family shelter. His performance incorporated sleight of hand, comedy and marionette puppetry, and featured guests from the audience.
“It’s good, fun, and clean entertainment,” Archer said.
Perhaps even more magical was the story behind Archer’s visit to The Salvation Army. Archer is the partner of Sheryl Lockerby, who was given coats and toys by The Salvation Army as a child and also received help from the organization with the delivery of her first child.
“We had no health insurance,” said Lockerby of her and her late ex-husband at the time of pregnancy. “I called a hospital; it was $10,000, and I didn’t have money. Someone referred me to The Salvation Army’s Booth Maternity Center. They put us on a payment plan. We paid every month and it was very minimal.”
When Archer was ready to scope out a place to perform for charity during the 2021 holiday season as he traditionally does, Lockerby directed him to The Salvation Army.
“They did a lot for me growing up,” Lockerby said. “So I thought, as an adult, I’d like to do something for them.”
Archer performed at the Red Shield Family Residence on Christmas Day in 2021 and returned this past Christmas. Archer turned to performing magic after he left his job selling computer equipment when a heart attack in 1997 caused him to have an epiphany.
“I realized life is too short. Follow your dream,” he said.
Since that pivotal moment, Archer has been living his dream by performing magic with his company across the country. When it comes to The Salvation Army, Archer and Lockerby say they would like to continue the tradition of performing magic shows for Salvation Army audiences.
“A lot of people truly don’t have holiday joy,” Archer said. “There are people who are hurting. What I try to do is make people happy and make people forget about something, laugh, smile. So, Sheryl and I thought it would be good to perform at The Salvation Army during the holidays.
“When you do this type of magic and you see the look on children’s faces when they’re watching…this is why I do what I do for a living. Magic is just one of those unique things.”
Kelly Devlin, Director of The Red Shield Family Residence, expressed her gratitude for Archer’s and Lockerby’s generosity during the holidays.
“The smiling faces of the children filled the room as Danny performed,” she said. “This commitment to bringing laughter and joy to our families experiencing homelessness is above and beyond and we are so excited to have Archer’s and Lockerby’s ongoing support for our community.”
The Red Shield Family Residence, an after-hours reception site, serves an average of three to 10 families and offers an arts-based, trauma sensitive program for children aged 6 to 18 of families during their stay. For more information on this residence and other housing programs led by The Salvation Army in Greater Philadelphia, please go to www.saphilly.org.