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Word and Image: Daphne Maxwell-Reid

2018 Richmond Christmas Mother

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As the Richmond Christmas Mother, I have the honor of representing a fund that makes sure that all the children in Richmond's surrounding areas have a holiday. We secure donations from the community and nonprofits and I think that they're counting on me also contacting all the people I know. I'm an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Society, Inc., and they've come on board, dedicating themselves to raising funds for the cause.

The Christmas Mother has been sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch for 85 years now, but I had no idea what it was until they asked me. I found out when Tom Silvestri called me to take a meeting with him. After he explained it, I said yes and he was surprised I didn't need time to think about it. I told him no, I was honored to be asked and I have the time to do it. Too many people get stuck in the cracks or lost in the cracks during the holidays and that means we need to extend some help to everyone in the community. I told him we need to reach folks who need to be reached, so let's do it.

I get to ride in the Christmas parade, greet young people at cotillions and luncheons and work with FeedMore and the Salvation Army, who are our partners in distribution. When they gave me the schedule for the month, they were worried that it was such a busy schedule. But I've been in show business for 40 years and when I looked at the calendar, I thought, this looks like a three-day press junket. The dates are scattered throughout the month, so it's not stressful at all. I'm very accustomed to standing in front of 10 or 10,000 people and speaking my mind.

I think I was welcomed as the Christmas Mother because of the little bit of celebrity I bring and I'll wave that flag as long as it does some good. I'm working on "Harriet," a film about Harriet Tubman directed by Kasi Lemmons and I'm honored to be part of that cast. Coming out in December is a series I did called "Jacqueline and Jilly" on the Urban Movie Channel about a family dealing with opioid addiction. I do creative photography and my 2019 calendar featuring photographs of Sicily is out soon. I may be different from some of the past women chosen for this because I'm a working girl who's been selected to be the Richmond Christmas Mother

I can't wait to see the children's eyes when they're given a holiday they didn't expect to have, not to mention the relief on the parents' faces because they didn't know how they were going to manage a celebration for their family.

The best part of all this is the joy of the holiday, creating a trail of happiness wherever we go, making sure people are fed and clothed and have a spark of holiday while others are celebrating. Hopefully no child will be left behind — for real.

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