CHRISTMAS MOTHER NIAMTU

April Niamtu will serve as this year’s Richmond Christmas Mother. The program provides food and gifts for area families.

April Niamtu is quick to point out she loves Christmas.

“There is just a feeling I get when I think of that magical time of year,” she said.

She loves the trimmings of the season, decorating five Christmas trees, unraveling countless strands of white lights and displaying scores of Nutcracker figurines, creating a scene that her husband, Dr. Joseph Niamtu III, playfully says transforms their home into Macy’s during the holidays.

The Niamtus have been involved with numerous charities through the years and are known for their generous spirit, illustrated in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch story about a former Romanian immigrant whom the Niamtus took into their home when he had nowhere else to go after he was shot and wounded during a 2007 robbery. The man, Danny Teodorescu, who became a U.S. citizen in a July 4 naturalization ceremony, lived with the Niamtus for four years.

It all adds up to April Niamtu being a perfect candidate to serve as the 2019 Richmond Christmas Mother.

“We are fortunate that April Niamtu will lead the 2019 campaign,” said Tom Silvestri, president and publisher of The Times-Dispatch. “It’s really impressive how much she believes in the mission of the Richmond Christmas Mother and, like the many Christmas Mothers before her, will put her own stamp on the season of giving and helping Richmond’s needy families.”

April Niamtu grew up in Virginia Beach and has lived in Richmond since 1993. She and Joe married in 1998, and they have two sons, Joey and Evan. She has a third son, Steve, from a previous marriage.

Joey and Evan, both in their teens, have severe physical and mental disabilities, April Niamtu said. They cannot sit, stand, walk or talk and are fed 100% by a feeding tube. They both suffer from seizures and require 24-hour care.

“My most favorite downtime activity of all is snuggling with my boys,” she said.

April Niamtu served on the board of the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, a position she was appointed to by Gov. Bob McDonnell. Before that, she had served on the board of Safe Harbor, a nonprofit that supports those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual violence or human trafficking.

The Niamtus also have supported and volunteered with such organizations as SOAR365 (formerly Greater Richmond ARC), Noah’s Children, Operation Smile, Virginia Home and Positive Vibe.

April Niamtu worked in the mortgage business for 15 years and is now co-director of Niamtu Cosmetic Surgery Education. Joe Niamtu is a cosmetic facial surgeon.

The annual Richmond Christmas Mother Fund is organized by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It began in 1935, evolving from The Richmond News Leader’s Empty Stocking Fund and the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Good Fellow Club. The Richmond Times-Dispatch sponsors the program and absorbs nearly all its administrative costs.

Today, the program provides food and gifts for children and families, primarily through a grant to the Salvation Army Central Virginia’s Christmas Assistance program. Last year, the fund raised more than $204,000.

Nonprofits will be able to apply for grants from the fund beginning in August. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

April Niamtu said she is “honored and humbled” to be selected as the 2019 Richmond Christmas Mother.

“I have followed the Christmas Mother program and loved what she represents,” April Niamtu said. “I am so excited for this Christmas season to arrive, and I look forward to making the 85th anniversary of this Richmond tradition the best ever.”

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