Children’s Tree Fund holds annual distribution

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 26, 2003

Their financial and personal situations varied from person to person, but the need was the same &045;&045; to simply have toys and clothing to give their children for Christmas.

And, as it is every year, help was available through the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund.

The fund, started in the early 1900s by then Democrat publisher James Lambert, raises thousands of dollars in donations each year to purchase gifts for needy children throughout the Miss-Lou.

Email newsletter signup

With this year’s economic situation, fund Chairwoman Katherine Killelea didn’t know how many donations to expect or what the amounts would be.

But, she admitted, she didn’t need to worry. &uot;The people of Natchez … they always come through,&uot; she said, smiling over a list of the latest donations.

The recipients themselves had quite a lot to smile about at the fund’s annual Christmas Eve children’s gift distribution.

As in past years, the event took place in the auditorium of the old Braden School building, with this year’s Santa Claus, Alton Ogden, greeting the children who walked across the stage to receive big bags full of gifts.

One Natchez mother said her 2-year-old son received not only a toy &uot;jukebox&uot; and other toys in his gift bag, but also a jogging suit, a jumper and a heaping bag of candy.

In fact, she had a tough time keeping him out of the bag of gifts at one point. But it was the thought that counted as much as the gifts, his mother said.

&uot;It’s such a blessing that there are people who are willing to help,&uot; she said.

The help was especially needed this year, the working mother said, because she is also signing up for college &045;&045; which is taking much of her money in the short term.

One Ferriday woman said any

help she can get is greatly appreciated, since she is raising two of her grandchildren.

&uot;This,&uot; she said, &uot;is truly wonderful.&uot;

However, the day’s volunteers, which included local high school students &045;&045; and members of the Santa Claus Committee, which gives thousands of dollars to the fund each year &045;&045; said helping is a wonderful experience in itself.

&uot;It’s so impressive to see the joy these children get from receiving their gifts,&uot; said committee member Charles Montgomery, who served as the committee’s &uot;Santa Claus&uot; in 1988. &uot;It’s just a pleasure.&uot;

&uot;This helps kids who otherwise might not get anything. It gives you a warm feeling in your heart to be able to do something for them,&uot; said committee member Ricky Warren.

&uot;This is what Christmas is all about,&uot; Warren said. &uot;And we have so much, we need to give back.&uot;