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A Bob Fox Christmas gift that keeps giving

During the Christmas holidays in 1982, popular Westmoreland County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Fox lamented to a gathering of friends that he was concerned about the number of county residents who were without gifts, food or friendship during the holiday season. “I want to do something to help them,” he said.

Three months later on March, 11, 1983, Robert “Bob” Fox dropped dead of a heart attack while trying a case in a Westmoreland County courtroom. Bob Fox’s friends, coworkers and many of the citizens of Westmoreland County who had come to love him during his seven years as commonwealth’s attorney remembered his promise to help others and in 1984 launched “The Bob Fox Project” which is still helping county residents young and old today.

This year the Bob Fox Project is again distributing hundreds of gifts to residents of the county.  “It’s done very quietly,” said Brenda Reamy, the Montross Town Manager. “But it reaches out to every adult, every child and every senior who is in need at this time of year.”

The project has three components: a complete turkey dinner with all of the trimmings delivered to elderly citizens who are homebound and alone; gift packages for Westmoreland seniors who are in nursing homes; and a toy distribution program coordinated by the Westmoreland County Social Services Department.

“People who would not be able to have Christmas are now able to get Christmas because of the Bob Fox Project, “ said teacher Dorothy Langmack, who coordinates the distribution of more than 100 complete turkey dinners with dressing, gravy, green beans, fruit and a gift to elderly citizens who are home alone.

“We pack a gift bag for every citizen of Westmoreland who is in a nursing home,” said Brenda Riley, who coordinates the nursing home program through the women’s auxiliary of the Montross Volunteer Fire Department. “Sometimes we get notes thanking us and telling us that is all they got for Christmas.”

In recent years, under the leadership of Joe Howell of Social Services, the toy distribution effort – now called ‘Santa’s Toys’ – has enjoyed enormous success receiving donations not only from the Bob Fox Project but also from Westmoreland County churches and individuals and the national Toys for Tots program run by the U.S. Marine Corps.
“This year we will distribute 3,500 to 4,000 toys,” said Howell. “We depended for many years on the Bob Fox Project and we are grateful for their assistance. And we now also get assistance from the Ebenezer United Methodist Church, the Fredericksburg Salvation Army, the Rappahannock United Way as well as Toys for Tots.”

In 30 years, thanks to the hard work of hundreds of volunteers and the generous contributions of many citizens and groups, the idea that Bob Fox had of helping others in Westmoreland County at Christmas time has taken on a life of its own. Those who knew him are certain he would be proud!

Richard Leggitt

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