In 1983, two young mothers, Donna Slusher and Barbara Goad Sowers, had children in the New River Community Action Head Start Program in Floyd.  During the post-Christmas “show and tell”, they became aware that many children came empty handed because they had no Christmas, nothing to “show”. This was a heartbreaking discovery. Donna and Barbara felt a need to do something about it and conceived an idea to provide Christmas joy for children who otherwise wouldn’t have any.  With the support of New River Community Action Emergency Service Organization this idea became Friends of Children (FOC).  

Donna and Barbara raised money for their project by placing empty coffee cans at local businesses.  These cans produced $5,000 in cash donations (mostly loose change). With this cash and goods donated by local merchants, they were able to bring Christmas to 50-60 Floyd County children who had been identified by the Department of Social Services (DSS) as needing assistance.  With the help of other volunteers, the gifts were wrapped and delivered to the children’s homes on Christmas Eve. Now the children could “show and tell” about their Christmas.     

The following year, DSS had families of about 300 children express an interest in participating in this program; however, FOC felt the need to limit the program to 15 families with 3 or more children.  This year, in addition to wrapped gifts, each family received a Christmas tree with stand donated by Slaughter’s Tree Farm. Slaughter’s would even set up the tree. Ornaments and decorations were donated by local merchants.


After a few years, Friends of Children evolved into Christmas for All (CFA) as it was decided to provide Christmas for the whole family, not just the children. And now, on Christmas Eve, the families’ wrapped gifts were delivered by Santa and two elves (Donna and Barbara) followed by Slaughter’s tree truck.

As Donna’s and Barbara’s children grew, they felt a need to reduce their commitment to CFA and in 1991 New River Community Action took over the program. That year the program’s theme was “Help an Angel” and the first record of Angel Trees is 1993 when 265 angels were placed on area Christmas trees.


In the mid 1990’s, Christmas for All received its designation as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization under the umbrella of Floyd County Cares and became Christmas for Children, the name and purpose of which remains the same today.   

Christmas for Children still reaches out to the community to support a child through placing Angels on trees at various locations. Read about the process on the ANGEL PROGRAM page.  

During the long history of this organization, many things have changed: the name; approaches to fundraising; how gifts were obtained and distributed; and working spaces, generously donated, from which the volunteers could collect, sort, wrap and distribute the gifts.  

One thing did not change, the idea conceived by Donna and Barbara. . . to provide Christmas joy for children who otherwise wouldn’t have any.  

Thanks to the generosity of the community through financial, volunteer and other support Christmas for Children has in the past ten years alone provided Christmas for over 2,500 local children.