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Community asked to give children a happy holiday

Trees are going up this week bearing the names of approximately300 needy children in the area who need the community’s help tohave a merry Christmas.

The annual Junior Auxiliary Wish Tree program began Monday withthe first tree being filled with special “ornaments” containing theinformation needed to “adopt” a needy child this holidayseason.

JA of Brookhaven is hoping the community will share Christmasspirit with the children by selecting a child’s name from the treeslocated at Bank of Brookhaven, Wal-Mart Supercenter and TrustmarkNational Bank on Whitworth Avenue.

“Donations are significantly less than last year,” said WishTree co-chair Kristi Carver. “We want to encourage businesses andorganizations to go together to adopt a couple kids.”

To adopt a child, participants can take an ornament off the treeto find out the child’s age, shoe size, clothing sizes and sex.

Needy children, ages 12 and under, are referred to JA from theLincoln County and Brookhaven School Districts and select day carefacilities in the area.

JA tries to provide each child with two outfits, three toys,underwear, socks, shoes, pajamas and a toothbrush. Children mayalso be given a coat, if enough donations are collected.

“We really need people to help out this year,” said Wish Treeco-chair Ginnie Dunaway.

After selecting a child, participants should fill out theadjoining side of the ornament with their own name, address andphone number. That information should be left in the designated bagbeside the tree.

Participants can then shop for the children buying whatever theycan. The activity is often a fun and rewarding event for civicgroups, school classes and church groups.

“A lot of times last year Sunday school classes came in andadopted children. They really enjoyed it,” said Shannon Aker,senior vice president of Bank of Brookhaven, where the first WishTree was put up Monday.

All gifts should be left unwrapped and placed under the treewhere the ornament was pulled, with the ornament attached, by Dec.8.

Wish Tree children who are not adopted by the community will notbe left out. JA plans to buy whatever items are not provided, somonetary donations will also be welcome.

Dunaway and Carver encourage people to get into the holidayspirit early and do something that will leave a lastingimpression.

“It feels good to adopt a child, and it really helps some needypeople right here in Lincoln County,” said Carver. “We had somereally good letters last year from people who received gifts. Theywere so appreciative.”