Community leaders surprise family with gifts and a Christmas tree

Posted at 6:42 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-29 19:00:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The worry of how they’d provide Christmas for their children and nieces weighed heavy on Vanessa and Jesse Smith’s minds. The couple, struggling to get by on Jesse’s disability check said being just weeks away from Christmas brought a lot of anxiety.

Tuesday, some community leaders did their part to wipe those worries away.

Like Santa’s elves with a surprise up their sleeves, helpers worked quickly to gather Christmas presents to help the Smith family.

When CBS 6 News aired Smith’s story this week, it touched Ricky Johnson. He’s the founder of Ricky Johnson and Friends.

That’s an organization behind the yearly toy parade which gives away ten thousand toys every Christmas. The parade rolls through the streets of Richmond and Petersburg. Johnson says they now even donate toys to needy children in Norfolk.


“Coming together as a community, that’s what community is all about,” Johnson explained. When he posted on Facebook that he wanted to help the Smith family, others happily joined in. Sgt. Carol Adams of the Carol Adams Foundation and Jose and Beverly Fox who own Jose Productions.

“Just to give a gift feels good to my spirit and I know it`s going to do great to the family within this house that`s struggling,” Fox said.

Sgt. Carol Adams said we all have to understand that life happens, even to the best of us. “Those with great jobs and those without jobs. Christmas is a spirit time of giving, so kids can have a happy smile on their face. We can teach them that there is love out there” Adams added.

When CBS 6 News followed this group to the Smith home to deliver the presents, we were met by a stunned couple. Both  husband and wife said they were completely surprised and humbled to know that complete strangers would be so giving.

“I didn’t know what to think. It was a big surprise and a big relief on us,” Jesse Smith explained. His wife Vanessa said they could never thank Johnson, Adams and the Foxes enough. “It meant a lot to us. We really greatly appreciate it.”