As a former school teacher, Petra Glover loves inspiring and supporting children.
When she was asked to be this year’s Richmond Christmas Mother, Glover thought her background as an educator gave her a unique perspective into the position.
“I think that’s what drew me to it because I like helping children,” Glover said, noting that she is “honored and humbled” to be selected as the 2021 Richmond Christmas Mother.
“It’s really something special when someone asks you to do this,” she said. “You feel anything you can do that helps to promote this and make it happen for people in Richmond is just a good feeling. It’s heartwarming, especially when you see how everybody in the community comes together and supports it. Everybody just wants to know what they can do to make it better and to help people.”
Her husband is Gary Glover, owner of Puritan Cleaners and the third generation of his family to be in the dry cleaning business that started in 1937.
She also has seen the impact that Puritan Cleaners’ annual Coats for Kids campaign has had over the past three decades. Her husband has worked with the Salvation Army for more than 30 years to collect donated coats for needy children for the program.
Community members drop off about 17,000 to 18,000 coats a year to Puritan Cleaners, where employees clean, repair and sort the coats. Each spring, Puritan Cleaners also works with FeedMore by collecting nonperishable foods and donations at its locations to raise food and funds for the 100K Meals program.
“With Gary doing the Coats for Kids, I’ve been around that for so many years, and you know all this stuff he does with the [FeedMore] food bank and everything else, it all just feels so good to do,” she said.
The annual Richmond Christmas Mother Fund is organized by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Its origins 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.
The Richmond Christmas Mother program receives contributions from RTD readers and advertisers, and it is building an endowment to help future services.
Last year, the program collected more than $376,000 in donations, thanks to efforts by 2020 Richmond Christmas Mother Rhonda Harmon.
The Richmond Christmas Mother program provides food and gifts for children and families, primarily through grants to the Salvation Army and FeedMore and to nonprofit organizations, with missions similar to the Richmond Christmas Mother, as part of a partnership with The Community Foundation Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.
Paul Farrell, president and publisher of The Times-Dispatch and Richmond Christmas Mother board president, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Petra Glover as this year’s Richmond Christmas Mother. Petra’s service in 2021 is another example of the Glover family’s never-ending dedication to serving those in need across our community.”
Glover grew up in Rockville, Md., and graduated from the University of Miami in 1976 with a degree in education and a minor in math. She and her husband went to the same university and graduated the same year, but didn’t know each other until 1978. They married in 1980 and moved to the Richmond region in 1982 so he could run the family’s dry cleaning operations here.
She taught math for six years — in Montgomery County, Md., and in Fairfax County — and was a substitute teacher for nearly a year in Henrico County schools until their daughter Carlin was born in 1983. Their youngest daughter, Kendall, was born in 1987. They have two grandchildren.
Glover said she is looking forward to this year’s Richmond Christmas Mother program. “I’m happy to do whatever I can to make this program special and to help raise money for it,” she said.