Charity remembers older children

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 15, 2006

Older children are the least remembered by charitable gift givers during the holiday season.

Martha Mitternight, director of Catholic Charities in Natchez, said her agency is scrambling to find gifts for needy children between the ages of 12 and 16.

“People say that by age 12 the children no longer believe in Santa Claus. But I say they are still children,” Mitternight said.

Email newsletter signup

She appeals to donors to consider this group of children when buying gifts or making donations to agencies such as Catholic Charities.

“We have about 45 children in that age group,” she said. “They deserve as much as anyone else to have some token under the Christmas tree.”

What would it take to make Christmas bright for a child that age — $100?

“I would love to have a hundred dollars for a child, but I would accept anything,” she said. “Maybe a bridge group or some other club that meets together would like to go in together to make a gift.”

Helping children at Christmastime is only one part of the work carried out by her agency during the holiday season, Mitternight said. But it is an important part.

Catholic Charities helps to screen about 300 of the children who get toys and gifts from the community Christmas Tree Fund.

In addition, many other families with children are on their gift list in addition to families who are residing at the Guardian Shelter during the holidays.

The Guardian Shelter for battered families, an agency sponsored by Catholic Charities, often sees an increase in women and children coming for refuge during the holidays, Mitternight said.

“Unfortunately, alcohol abuse goes up during the holidays, as does stress over finances. Domestic violence goes hand in hand with those things,” Mitternight said.

Two years ago, a mother and five children arrived at the shelter on Christmas Eve “with only the clothes on their backs,” Mitternight said.

The agency prepares ahead of time to provide Christmas gifts for families already at the shelter and tries to be prepared for latecomers and emergencies.

“We usually can pull it together,” she said. “But sometimes it’s hard.”

Donations of gifts, gift cards and money are welcome items, and may be taken to the offices at 109 S. Union St.

Anyone wishing to designate gifts for children ages 12 to 16 may do so.