Food, toys go out

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 20, 2001

NATCHEZ – Hundreds of Miss-Lou families filed into the old A&P building on Franklin Street Thursday to pick up bags of groceries and toys as part of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

&uot;It’s a blessing,&uot; Valerie Smith of Natchez, the mother of a 9-year-old son, said of the Angel Tree program. &uot;I’m disabled, and I’d be unable to get anything for my son without it.&uot;

In all, 371 families participated in the program, about the same number as last year, according to Salvation Army volunteers.

Email newsletter signup

Of those, 226 families with children 12 and younger received bags of toys as well as groceries, with the rest receiving food only, said volunteer Margaret House.

Several volunteers were present to help take names, distribute food and toys, load up the bags and take them to recipients’ cars.

&uot;I’m just here because I like to help people, to help all the little children,&uot; said Koby Sumrall, 16, who has been a Salvation Army volunteer for four years.

She then rushed to get a bag of toys for a family waiting at the front of the building.

Families apply for the program in October, giving their incomes, the number of children in their families and other information needed to determine whether they are truly needy, House said.

The Salvation Army then places Christmas trees decorated with paper angels in Natchez Mall, Kmart and other public places, said Capt. Geraldine Martin.

Each angel bears the first name, age, sex, clothing needs and sizes and short toy wish list of a needy child in the Miss-Lou.

Participants take names from the tree, buy the children gifts, wrap the gifts and bring them back to the Salvation Army by a certain deadline – this year, Dec. 10.

&uot;We just want to say that we appreciate the community’s help in filling these Angel Tree orders,&uot; House said.

&uot;We couldn’t do it without them,&uot; said volunteer Barbara Winkworth.

Still, some &uot;angels&uot; weren’t adopted this year, or people took the ornaments but did not bring gifts back to the Salvation Army.

Volunteers bought gifts for those 75 children – mostly girls, House said – on Tuesday. &uot;We need people to get those gifts in on time,&uot; she said.