Season of Wishes: Charities bring help at Christmas

Published 12:01 am Saturday, November 30, 2019

Most people have no problem making a list of who to give presents to during the Christmas season.

As people are busily checking their lists of family, friends and loved ones, however, it is easy to overlook charitable organizations.

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Many of the community’s charitable organizations work especially hard during the holiday season to make sure that the least among us are not overlooked during the Christmas season.

Junior Auxiliary of Natchez

JA of Natchez member Chassity Cannon said JA is active year-round helping children in many ways, often behind the scenes.

The organization provides backpacks of school supplies to children in need and makes sure snacks are available in classrooms for underprivileged children.

During Christmas, however, JA becomes more visible, Cannon said.

Starting Monday, the JA Angel Tree will be set up at the Concordia Bank location at 45 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.

“People can go in and get an angel and purchase whatever they want,” Cannon said of the Angel Tree program. “The angel is a base to lead them in the right direction.”

Ages of the children whose names appear on the Angels range up to 16, Cannon said. The children are selected based on referrals from school teachers, school administrators or law enforcement officials who are in a position to know if a child is in need.

Cannon said she also would take names of potential children in need up until Friday to add to this year’s Angel Tree if people call her at 601-870-0195.

The biggest needs Cannon said she finds for children at Christmas are coats, and underclothing.

Cannon said children sometimes ask for extravagant items that they don’t really need and the JA tries to cull those needs down to reality to ensure the children get items they need for Christmas.

One big item on many children’s lists, however, is bicycles and the JA works to make sure the children get those.

“The community is really great with that,” Cannon said. “Certain supporters of our tree go out as soon as the tree is up and get bicycles.”

In recent years, Cannon said JA has been helping as many as 150 children per Christmas. Just last year the group began adding approximately 25 senior citizens to the list, she said..

“We all know at least one senior citizen or elder who has no family and may not have a meal for the holidays,” Cannon said, adding she encourages people to adopt senior angels from the tree as well as children.

“They can spend whatever they want, purchase whatever they want,” Cannon said. “Bring it wrapped and with the bar code blacked out. Bring it back to the Concordia Bank.”

Cannon said the tree would be on display for two weeks.

“We do accept monetary donations at the bank,” Cannon said. “People can leave a monetary donation there.”

Also, as a Christmas fundraiser, the Junior Auxiliary of Natchez is sponsoring “Breakfast With the Grinch” at the JA’s Canteen building at Duncan Park at 9 a.m. and again at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 7.

Tickets are $10 each and are available from any JA member, Rruss or Pig Out Inn, Cannon said.

The event, Cannon said, will include breakfast and a visit with the Grinch as well as a reading of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Pictures with the Grinch, made by Jami Ainsworth, will be available for an extra $10 fee, Cannon said.

D&J Youth Group

Another charitable organization that works with youths in the Miss-Lou year-round is D&J Youth Group — run by Dianne and Joe Good in Natchez since 2012.

The organization helps young people with schoolwork and computer skills as well as feeding them.

Since 2012 many of D&J Youth’s members have gone on to graduate college from Tougaloo, Mississippi State University and Copiah-Lincoln Community College to name a few, Joe said.

During the Christmas season, Joe said he and Dianne try to help the children.

“We try to find out what the kids need,” Joe said. “Coats, footwear, hats. We figure out what their needs are. Most of the children are from the neighborhood — Woodlawn or Claiborne streets.”

Each year, Joe said D&J Youth Group helps approximately 10 to 12 youths for Christmas.

“We take donations from the community,” Joe said of funding for the organization. “Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is one of our biggest donors. They adopted us and help the kids and donate.”

Joe said D&J’s biggest need this time of year is monetary donations to help the organization meet the youths’ needs.

“Right now, we have utility bills,” Joe said. “We have a van we run all the time to take kids to church and take them places to feed them.”

Joe said monetary donations could be delivered to 7 Claiborne Street or 26 E. Woodlawn Street, Natchez, MS 39120. Checks can be made out to D&J Youth Group.

Fine furry friends

Natchez Adams County Humane Society always has needs to help the approximately 80 animals at the shelter at any given time throughout the year, and Christmas is no different, organizers said.

“It’s just like any other day,” said Lena McKnight, shelter director. “We go through so many items on a regular basis.”

McKnight said currently dog food is not a problem but cleaning supplies are a top priority.

“We are always in need of bleach, cleaning supplies and latex gloves,” McKnight said. Another big need this time of year is for people to adopt animals, McKnight said.

“What we need now is adoptions — finding good homes for animals,” McKnight said, adding shelter officials are cautious, however, about adopting animals out as Christmas presents.

Some people, McKnight said, might think adopting a dog or cat for a Christmas present is a good idea at Christmastime only to find out later it was not a good idea.

Therefore, McKnight said the shelter encourages people to purchase pet adoption certificates to give for Christmas and then when the time is right, they can actually go in and adopt a pet.

Dogs can be adopted for $75 and cats for $50. The adoption fees include spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations and micro chipping for each animal adopted, McKnight said.

Otherwise, McKnight said another big need during the holiday season is money.

“We need monetary donations,” McKnight said. “We transport animals to different parts of the nation and that costs money. Our community is really good about staying with us no matter what time of year it is.”

Donations for the Natchez Adams County Humane Society can be made at the shelter at 475 Liberty Road, Natchez, MS 39120.