Season of Wishes: Volunteers busy gathering toys for annual Christmas Tree Fund

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018


NATCHEZ — Volunteer Santas are busy gathering toys for little Natchezians who have registered for the Natchez Children’s Christmas Tree Fund.

Longtime volunteer Johnny Junkin said the Children’s Christmas Tree is a Natchez tradition that dates back to the early 1900s and that more than 300 children register to receive the gifts each year.

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“All of us have started buying the toys and getting the bags together,” Junkin said. “We’re at 300 to 350 kids right now, and of course if there’s still someone with a need we’ll take care of them. We’re pretty much on schedule.”

Junkin said the gifts are bought for specified age groups, which might mean a doll or tea set for a young girl or a football for a pre-teen boy. Junkin said they try to get five toys per child as funding allows, and they also include a bag of candy and a bag of fruit for each child.

The gifts will be distributed by Santa on Christmas Eve at the Braden School Auditorium at 6 Homochito St., Natchez.

Caroline Nobile, who said she has volunteered with the event almost her entire life, said seeing the children get their gifts is a great way to get into the spirit of the season.

“It’s very rewarding,” Nobile said. “They’re always very happy about getting their gifts. It’s a great way to spend Christmas Eve, and it really gets you into the Christmas spirit.”

Nobile said donations of any amount are appreciated.

“Donations are the only way we can do this, so we’re always in need,” Nobile said. “It doesn’t have to be a large amount; the small ones add up.”

Donations may be delivered to The Natchez Democrat at 503 N. Canal St., or mailed to: Natchez Children’s Christmas Tree Fund; P.O. Box 1082; Natchez, MS 39121.