Children’s Christmas Tree Fund seeks donations, adds online option
Published 12:54 pm Thursday, December 8, 2022
For nearly 120 years, the Natchez Children’s Christmas Tree Fund has provided a way for the community to help make a magical holiday for hundreds of needy children each year.
The fund began with Capt. James Lambert in 1903. “He was owner and publisher of The Democrat at the time,” said Johnny Junkin, Lambert’s great-grandson. “It started out of need his saw, and along the way the Santa Claus Committee got involved.”
Soon, the community began to support the effort with donations and businessmen formed the Santa Claus Committee to provide financial support and – most important – to help lead Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve parade through Natchez and to the distribution site.
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The fund is still coordinated and run by members of the Lambert Family, who begin working in early fall to register children; shop for toys and gifts; raise funds; and prepare the gift bags.
The program will provide Christmas gifts – toys, gloves, hats, fresh fruit, candy – to nearly 300 children on Christmas Eve. The day begins with a Santa Claus parade through town (route and details to be provided later), and culminates at Braden School, where Santa will greet the children and their families and distribute the gifts. Junkin said volunteers are hopeful the visit with Santa will move back inside the school this year, after two years of drive-through events due to COVID-19.
Remarkably, the program remains funded entirely by the generosity of the community and the Santa Claus Committee members.
Since its inception, the fund has been a popular way for families to donate during the holiday season, making gifts in honor of or memory of loved ones or simply making gifts to help spread the holiday spirit to those in need. All donations are recognized in The Democrat and on natchezdemocrat.com.
“As ever year, donations can be dropped off at The Democrat office (503 N. Canal) or mailed to P.O. Box 1082,” Junkin said. “However, this year we are added a new, online donation option.”
The online donation option is available at natchezdemocrat.com and utilizes the donorbox.org platform. “This is a safe and easy option for anyone to make a donation,” said Stacy Graning, regional editor of The Democrat. “With just one click, you can make a donation using your card, Google Pay or Apple Pay in a safe, secure platform. And, you can include details for honorariums or memorial gifts.”
Junkin said the advent of new methods to allow the community to support the fund is exciting, but the heart of the program remains the same as when it started. “It really means Christmas to us and to the community,” Junkin said. “I wouldn’t know what to do without it.”
To learn more about the fund or to make a donation, visit the campaign page on Donorbox.org.