Season of Wishes: Children’s Christmas Tree fundraiser underway

Published 2:30 pm Monday, December 4, 2023

NATCHEZ — There’s nothing quite like seeing a child smile when they receive their Christmas presents from Santa Claus.

Bringing those smiles to hundreds of children locally who might not get anything otherwise is the mission of the Children’s Christmas Tree fund, organizer Johnny Junkin said.

Since the Children’s Christmas Tree Fund began with Capt. James Lambert in 1903, descendants of the Lambert family have carried on the tradition year after year, and it has been supported all those years by donations from the community.

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Little has changed in all of those years, but a few things have.

“It takes us about $10,000 for us to break even and that’s what we shoot for and we meet that every year,” Junkin said.

He has already been out shopping for Christmas gifts to check off the list of 250 to 300 children who will be opening them up at the Braden building on Homochitto Street on Dec. 23.

“This event traditionally happens on Christmas Eve except for when Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday,” Junkin said. “That is really the only big change this year is that we’re doing it on the Saturday before.”

Another change that Junkin has noticed during his Christmas shopping, “Toys are considerably more expensive than they used to be,” he said.

An online giving option through natchezdemocrat.com was offered for the first time last year and will be an option again this year to help bring in the funds needed.

Those who donate, if they choose, will have their donations acknowledged in digital and print stories in The Democrat. If someone wants to donate in memory of a loved one, they can do that too.

The day of festivities begins with the Santa Claus Committee’s parade, a motorcade with Santa leading the way in the Rudolf position to deliver candy to observers throughout many Natchez neighborhoods.

Santa will then be at Braden where around 300 children will be able to sit on Santa’s lap.

Donations can be dropped off at The Democrat office at 503 N. Canal or mailed to P.O. Box 1082.

“We appreciate everyone who has supported this effort throughout the years and look forward to spreading Christmas cheer again this year,” Junkin said.