Santa’s on his way … via some area ‘angels’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Local children need not fear, Santa Claus will be visiting the Miss-Lou this holiday season. Many local charities, clubs, and organizations focus specifically on children’s needs during Christmas.

Angel trees, toy drives and shopping sprees make sure that no child is left out at Christmas time.

The Concordia Parish Christmas Charity Fund kicks off its 12th year this season.

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The Christmas fund helps about 300 of the area’s neediest families, said Chris Vaughan, president of the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of this year’s campaign.

&uot;The families are chosen through an application process,&uot; Vaughan said. &uot;Then social services verifies the need.&uot;

Applications may be picked up at the school board office in Vidalia or at Ferriday City Hall. The application deadline is Dec. 1.

Community donations are collected from businesses and individuals. The campaign uses the money to purchase toys for the children and Christmas groceries for the families on Dec. 21.

More information is available by contacting Vaughan at 318-757-4811 or his co-chairman, David Porter, at 318-757-2926.

Other area charity funds:

4The Junior Auxiliary of Natchez launches its 14th annual Angel Tree campaign on Dec. 4, said Esther Herring, this year’s chairperson.

Each year the auxiliary sets up its tree in the lobby of Amsouth Bank on Franklin Street.

Paper angels hang from the tree giving the child’s name, age, gender and wish.

&uot;This year we have 250 children in need,&uot; Herring said. &uot;That is the most we have ever had, so we really need people to open their hearts this year.&uot;

The auxiliary invites individuals, families, schools and businesses to participate.

&uot;If it wasn’t for this campaign these children wouldn’t have Christmas,&uot; Herring said.

To take part, a donor should pick a name off the tree, buy a present for that child, wrap it and place it under the tree at the bank, Herring said. The Angel Tree campaign will run from Dec. 4 through Dec. 15.

4The Natchez Police Department’s Santa Cop campaign actively involves the children.

On Dec. 23 volunteers pick up the children in police cars and take them to K-Mart for a Christmas shopping spree.

&uot;Each child walks out of K-Mart with a basketful of stuff,&uot; said Sgt. Tom McGehee. &uot;And as they walk out into the parking lot, we put a big bag of groceries on the buggy too.&uot;

These kids are the most needy kids in the Miss-Lou, McGehee said.

Donations to Santa Cop may be mailed to P.O. Box 97, Natchez, Miss., 39121, payable to Fraternal Order of Police.

4The Santa Claus Committee, in conjunction with Brown Barnett Dixon and The Natchez Democrat, helps organizes the Children’s Christmas Tree each year.

&uot;This campaign will provide toys for about 200 children this season,&uot; said Katherine Killelea of Brown Barnett Dixon.

Clothes are furnished for the children by Kelly’s Kids and some toys have already been donated by Toys for Tots and ABATE motorcyclists.

&uot;On Christmas Eve the Santa Claus Committee distributes the toys and clothes to the children at Braden School,&uot; said Killelea. &uot;Santa Claus will be present to hand out the gifts and talk to the children.&uot;

The campaign is still in need of donations, she said. Donors may send checks to Children’s Christmas Tree in care of Brown Barnett Dixon’s or The Natchez Democrat, P.O. Box 1447, Natchez, Miss., 39121.

4The Salvation Army also focuses on children during Christmas.

The Army has five angel trees in different locations around Natchez. Community members are invited to choose an angel off the trees at K-Mart and Natchez Mall in front of J.C. Penny, said Alma Timmons of the Salvation Army.

&uot;The cardboard angel ornaments give the child’s name, age, sex, need, wish, and most importantly, a code number,&uot; Timmons said. &uot;Mark the packages with the child’s name and code number and return the gifts to the tree or to the Salvation Army by Dec. 13.&uot;

On Dec. 18, the Salvation Army volunteers will move all the gifts to their Christmas headquarters at the old A&P on Franklin Street, across the street from the Natchez Community Center, where they will sort through them and organize them by number. The gifts will be distributed on Dec. 19 at the Christmas headquarters.

&uot;This year we are we are expecting to serve close to 550 kids,&uot; said Salvation Army Lt. Bobby Westmoreland. &uot;Last year it was just the most beautiful thing with everyone helping each other.&uot;

Contact Westmoreland at 442-0217 to volunteer.