Santa’s visit brings joy to children

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 24, 1999

About 290 children picked up bags full of presents and got hugs from Santa at the old Braden School Friday, courtesy of the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund.

Each Christmas since the turn of the century, the fund has distributed bags of gifts to the area’s needy children. Their names are given to the fund by Catholic Charities. At about 11:30 a.m., Santa Claus marched into the building’s auditorium, to the delight of the children and parents who packed into the room.

&uot;I&160;love coming back to Natchez,&uot; Claus said in between hugging boys and girls who made their way across the stage for their presents. &uot;The people are so friendly and warm … and I’m enjoying this warm weather, too.&uot;

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He was flanked by members of the Santa Claus Committee, a group that raises money and buys toys for the annual distribution event.

Including those donations, the amount of money raised for this year’s event was about $7,000, said Katherine Killelea, chairman of the Christmas Tree Fund. As their names were called, the children stood in line by age and gender to take bags handed out by fund volunteers. The bags, which surrounded a nine-foot Christmas tree on the auditorium’s stage, were in some cases as big as the children attempting to carry them. Inside was a variety of gifts – blouses and bags of candy, dart guns and foam T-ball sets, dolls and teddy bears and skateboards.

&uot;Look what I&160;got!&uot; yelled one little boy, pulling a toy race car out of a bag almost as big as he was.

But for some, the main attraction was getting to spend quality time with their families at a festive holiday celebration.

&uot;Spending time with family and friends is the main thing,&uot;&160;said Darlene Bordelon of Crosby, holding 3-year-old daughter Delia, who said she enjoyed seeing Santa most of all. &uot;The spirit of Christmas – that’s what it’s all about.&uot;