ROANOKE RAPIDS — “This is going to happen!” said an exuberant Gilbert Portela as he shared the good news. The Roanoke Rapids Graded School District has allowed Angel’s Closet an extension and they can stay at the Medlin School through the holidays until Jan. 31.

Angel’s Closet, a charity organization, helps needy school children and sometimes their families with the essentials of everyday life. Portela is the founder and administrator of the organization.

He worked through the school system for many years, but recently St. John the Baptist Catholic Church took Angel’s Closet under it’s wing. It’s been located at the old Medlin School for years, but recently, because of insurance issues, Portela was informed Angel’s Closet would have to move out by Jan. 1.

That’s not so easy when you consider this is Christmas and it’s the time when Angel’s Closet serves the most children in the Valley.

But the community came together to support the ministry and within two weeks of the eviction notice, area business leaders found a new home for Portela and Angel’s Closet.

Still, according to Portela, there was no way he’d be able to serve Roanoke Valley families and move the organization to its new building at the same time. He’s seeing more than 12 families a day, providing for their Christmas.

Portela said he recently called one of the school board members to see if they could help with the extension. “I wrote a letter to the board, then went up there to make sure it was delivered,” but Portela said the hand delivery wasn’t necessary. “As soon as I walked in the superintendent said the chairman had polled the board and they gave me until the 31st! The letter was never even delivered!”

Portela said he’s still reeling from all the new support coming in for Angel’s Closet and he’s grateful to the board for granting the extension. He said people are calling from all over the Valley to help with building preparations and moving. “People called to donate paint. A business called to say they would check on the heat and air.”

Portela chuckled, then said, “It’s going to be nice to be warm! It’s freezing in here today!”

He said a moving company has offered their fleet “and there’s 60 bodies from the National Guard who said they’d help with the move!” He said there’s a host of others who’ve offered help, support and prayers and he cannot thank the community enough, though he insists he will try his best to do so.

For more information about Angel’s Closet, to volunteer or to contribute call Portela at 252-326-3236.

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