Single parent loses mother, gains Christmas love from The Salvation Army

Dec 15, 2022

When Philadelphia resident Marcia Abrams learned her mother had died in her sleep last December, it turned her world upside down.

The news came just hours after she received Christmas gifts for herself and her son from The Salvation Army Philadelphia Central Corps as part of its Adopt-a-Family program.

“That definitely killed my spirit,” said Abrams, a single parent with two children and one on the way. “So, I didn’t open anything right away.”

Fast forward to Christmas morning, and she and her then two-year-old younger son were all smiles. When they opened the presents, they found toys, clothing, shoes, a sheet and blanket set, and an electric fireplace for her new home. Also, Abrams received a laptop.

“I was shocked and amazed. I was not expecting to receive that much stuff. The only thing I asked for was the fireplace. I’m extremely grateful.”

The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family program is just one of its holiday assistance efforts that benefit underserved community members. A family can sign up to “adopt a family” in need and shop for them according to their wish list. This program, combined with toy drives, the Angel Tree program and more, allows those impacted by poverty to experience the joy of Christmas.

Perhaps most recognized is the Red Kettle fundraising effort, and this year, donations are lagging by about 33% across the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware region, while the demand for services has increased 40% from last year.

“Adopt-a-Family introduced my eyes to a whole new perspective of The Salvation Army,” said Michelle Wilson, an employee with The Salvation Army Philadelphia Central Corps, who assists with the Adopt-a-Family program, as well as its after-school and senior programs. “I got to meet families who were in need. I helped families whose kids were dealing with death like the loss of a parent or grandparent.

“It really hit her hard,” said Wilson of Abrams losing her mother. “I know how she feels as a woman who lost my mother. She’s still trying to figure a lot of things out. [The Salvation Army] is here as a source as far as helping her make it. This Corps is a blessing to so many families in need.”

Abrams was decorating and furnishing her newly rented home last Christmas, which cleared all of her savings. She went to The Salvation Army for help with holiday assistance for her children, while she purchased bedroom sets for her and her son.

Abrams has also received food boxes from The Salvation Army regularly, especially at the height of the pandemic. She has been served by The Salvation Army since her older son, 18, was a little boy. She volunteered for the Angel Tree program during that time, as well as took her son to the Police Athletic League (PAL) after-school program regularly.

“To me it’s a blessing, just to have something like The Salvation Army and what they stand for,” said Abrams. “The name of the organization speaks for itself – the salvation of the army. It really takes a village to be able to live and lend a helping hand, and that’s what they do.”

Capt. Peranda Fils-Aime, Corps Officer for The Salvation Army Central Corps., added: “For us, once we help someone, we make them feel they’re worth it. We create a family together. Once you show them you’re giving to them, you’re showing you care for them.”

To help The Salvation Army in Greater Philadelphia Ring in Christmas and Love Beyond Christmas for those in need, donate by visiting its Virtual Red Kettle.

Recent Stories

Related Content: Online Stories

Get Involved

A gift to The Salvation Army helps someone in your community.

Give Now



Do Good in your community

Find Worship

Join us throughout the week for worship, fellowship, Bible study, meals, community service and fun.