Christmas Tree Fund worthy of your support

Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 7, 2019

“That’s just Natchez.”

That quote is how Katherine Killelea described the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund to a Natchez Democrat editor in December 2003.

Killelea, a longtime family friend of Children’s Christmas Tree Fund founder the late Captain James W. Lambert, took over as director of the fund in 1970 and ran it until 2006.

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Lambert, who was editor and publisher of The Natchez Democrat, began the fund in 1901, along with a group of Natchez businessmen. Lambert and the others were passionate about providing toys and gifts for Natchez children in need at Christmas, firmly believing no child should go without a Christmas present.

What Killelea meant by “that’s just Natchez,” is how so many people come together each year to keep alive Lambert’s dream.

In 2006, Lambert’s descendants — among them great-grandson Johnny Junkin and great-great-granddaughter Caroline Nobile — took over the responsibility of directing the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund. But it takes the work and donations of many, many local people to provide gifts to Natchez children on Christmas Eve.

The Natchez Christmas Tree Fund is uniquely Natchez, too, in that in 1920 the fund joined forces with a group of businessmen known now as the Santa Claus Committee.

The Santa Claus Committee oversees the annual celebration and distribution of gifts each year at the Braden School auditorium. On its way to the auditorium, the Santa Claus Committee parades through Natchez neighborhoods to the delight of children and parents, throwing candy along the way.

That Christmas Eve parade means Christmas to many who grew up in Natchez.

Please consider donating to the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund. You can send them to P.O. Box 1082, Natchez MS, 39121 or to The Natchez Democrat, P.O. Box 1447. Or, you can drop your donation off at The Natchez Democrat office, 503 N. Canal St.

It takes about $10,000 each year to purchase gifts for the 350 or so 1- to 11-year-olds in need in Natchez. What better way to show gratitude for all you have than to help bless a Natchez child in need at Christmas.