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'It means a lot' | Prince George's County organizations deliver warm coats, holiday gifts to families during pandemic

More than 70 families and their children benefited from the generosity of the organizations.
Credit: Zach Merchant WUSA9

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — In a year when COVID-19 has forced many out of work, some families now preparing for Christmas are facing tightened budgets. A group in Prince George's County teamed up Sunday to help ease a little of that burden.

A caravan of good cheer rolled through the streets of Prince George's County, delivering donations of warm coats and Christmas gifts to hard-working Marylanders facing hard times.

"My wife's a nurse so she's on the front line every day," said Antonio Reese. "I was furloughed in March so it's been a tough road."

The father of four was one of the recipients of the holiday donations.

The deliveries were a team effort led by the new Prince George's County-based nonprofit, R.O.A.R., the Maryland-National Capital Park Police, the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office and others.

"I'm just excited that we're able to help so many families this year," said Maryland-National Capital Park Police Chief Stanley Johnson. "There's a need."

"Because of the pandemic, a lot of parents were under the weather with not being able to afford to give their children what they're used to," said Tanya Smith, who started the nonprofit R.O.A.R. after serving more than 25 years as a Prince George's County Police Officer.

State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy called it an opportunity to "bring holiday cheer."

In all, the group delivered to more than 70 families and their children, bringing a much-needed bright spot to a holiday season when tight budgets meant tough choices for parents.

"It means a lot, it means a lot," said Reese. "Like the tree, we got a little stuff under there but now, we got all this stuff so it means a whole lot."

And for the kids, organizers and parents alike hope the deliveries will bring a little Christmas magic to a tough year.

"They're going to be shocked," said Reese as he received his family's delivery. "Just like I'm shocked right now."

If you'd like to help or if you need help yourself, you can connect with Tanya Smith from R.O.A.R. at tlsmithoutreach@gmail.com or the Prince George's County State's Attorney's office at 301-952-3500.