Special delivery: JWHS coach, team spread Christmas joy to local families

5fe1494a93e24.imageWINCHESTER — As a truck filled with small bicycles pulled up to the home of 4-year-old Quran Hilare'lee in Winchester's North End neighborhood on Monday afternoon, the boy bounced up and down in anticipation.

Quran and his young sister excitedly danced on their porch while members of the James Wood High School girls' varsity basketball team delivered bicycles and toys to them.

"It really is a blessing to me and my kids, and they wanted new bikes," said a smiling Jasmine Newman, the children's mother.

The bicycles and toys were made possible through the fundraising efforts of new JWHS girls' varsity basketball coach Sanford Silver Jr. and New Hope Baptist Church in Stephens City, where he is pastor.

Newman said it's been tough to stay inside this holiday season due to COVID-19 precautions. While her children will get a few small toys for Christmas, the presents delivered on Monday really brightened their holiday

Quran was especially excited about his new bicycle.

"I'm going to ride my bike!" he exclaimed.

Silver has been facilitating a holiday toy drive for deserving children for more than 25 years. This year, he got the girls' basketball team involved.

In a normal year, he brings the children along so they can pick out their own Christmas presents. But he couldn't do that this year because of the pandemic. Instead, the presents were delivered to their doorsteps.

5fe14c927330c.imageSilver and the team delivered about 20 bicycles and six scooters to families in the city's North End on Monday. The next day, they delivered another 20 bicycles and other toys to families in Charles Town, West Virginia

The donations totaled about $7,500. He said Meadows Farm Inc. has helped sponsor the annual Christmas toy donations over the years.

"This is a lot, and I'm really thankful for what they did," said North End resident Courtney Tyler, whose children received toys and bikes. Their old bikes were broken. "Now I'm just going to cry because they're going to be really happy when they come home."

Silver said he has been doing the toy donation because when he was a child in Berryville he received toys from Bernestine Ellis, who recently passed away at the age of 101. Growing up, he normally got hand-me-downs, so he was grateful to get something new for the holidays.

"It meant so much to me that someone who doesn't even know you would show that much love and affection and care for you," Silver said, adding that the gesture "kind of touched me at a young age. It just makes you feel good helping young people."

As an adult, he wanted to continue that kind of generosity. He also wanted to involve the girls' basketball in the joy of giving.

"That's what I'm trying to teach our James Wood High School varsity girls," he said. "There's more to life than just basketball, sports and academics. There's things you can do within your community to be great leaders. You want to be a part of your community."

The girls on the team agreed that they're excited to give back to the community.

And while it's been hard for them not to be able to compete this year because of the pandemic, they've bonded over the shared experiences and struggles caused by COVID-19.

"I think it's brought us closer together in a way, just because we are all going through the same thing and it's just kind of a way to come together with a sport," said team member Aubrey Grove, 16.

— Contact Anna Merod at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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