NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — This holiday season, a local organization more known for its activism is making sure kids have gifts under the tree.
The president of Black Lives Matter 757 says they really want to do something positive for the community this year. The organization’s members acknowledge that 2020 has been a crazy year, so a toy drive and distribution is a way they can give back to the community and spread some holiday cheer.
“Just delivering a smile now because, like I said, 2020 was rough,” said Japharii Jones, president of Black Lives Matter 757. “We just want people to smile, we want to bring something positive back to the 757.”
To deliver those smiles, the organization is playing Santa and is collecting toys for kids who may not have a lot under the tree.
“It’s very crucial that we fulfill that need,” Jones said.
Over the weekend, the group set up inside of the Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News. Jones says they collected toys and spoke with people walking by.
“If people do have issues, we want them to feel comfortable contacting us and letting us know and we will do whatever is in our power to solve it in some way, shape, or form,” said Jones.
Also, it’s not just about political activism, they want to show that they care.
“We’re more than protesters, you know, we are trying to build a community,” Jones said.
That shared spirit is another reason they are collecting toys.
“It just brings joy to kids and at this point, we really feel that like that should be the main focus: the children,” said Jones.
They plan to collect gifts at area businesses throughout the week, and then drive them into specific neighborhoods early next week.
“The areas hardest hit by gun violence and the type of misfortune that seems to be ignored,” Jones said of where they will take the gifts.
Also, BLM 757 doesn’t want distance or a lack of transportation to stop any child from getting a gift.
“We feel it’s more important for us to take it directly to the neighborhood because some people don’t have transportation, some people just can’t get there, some people hear about it late,” said Jones. “So we want to make sure the people that need it are getting it.”