‘Angel’ helps get gifts to needy kids

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 7, 1999

When Alma Timmons of Natchez retired as a secretary and moved with her husband to Shreveport, La., 11 years ago, she wanted to do hands-on volunteer work, not sit behind a desk. Unfortunately, that was the type of work most non-profits had available at the time. But Timmons’ sister, a Salvation Army Angel Tree volunteer in Memphis, encouraged Timmons to began working with that program in Shreveport.

&uot;I called the Salvation Army, and the lady there said she had been praying someone would volunteer, because they didn’t have anyone to coordinate the program,&uot;&160;Timmons said.

She has been coordinating the Angel Tree program ever since – first in Shreveport and then in Natchez, ever since she moved back a few years ago.

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Through the Angel Tree program, low-income parents apply for Christmas presents for their children.

The parents supply financial information and the types and sizes of clothing their children need. The children also tell volunteers what types of toys they would like.

A paper angel Christmas ornament is then filled out with the child’s first name, clothing information and toy wish list. Christmas trees decorated with the ornaments are placed at businesses that request them.

People then choose ornaments from the tree and buy those children gifts, which are then distributed by the Salvation Army to the children. Needy families can also apply for food for the holidays under the program.

Coordinating the Angel Tree program has turned out to be a big job for Timmons.

Last year, the Salvation Army’s Christmas trees were decorated with more than 600 angels, and only about 10 volunteers helped take applications and distribute gifts.

But it is all worth it for Timmons when she gets to see the people she helps.

&uot;So many people apply that don’t want to have to ask for help,&uot;&160;Timmons said. &uot;But when you see that you are really helping people, and that they really appreciate it, it’s rewarding.&uot;

People can apply for the Angel Tree program from 9 a.m. to noon Monday at the Salvation Army at 509 N. Canal St. in Natchez.

Applications will be taken for two weeks.