Trees in place for holiday adoptions

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 15, 2004

The trees are going up and children are ready to be adopted asthe Brookhaven Junior Auxiliary launches its annual holiday WISHTree fund-raiser.

About 300 children will receive Christmas gifts through theorganization’s largest community service effort of the year. JAmembers encourage area residents, particularly families, to help tomake the season a little brighter for these youth by purchasingtoys, clothes and other items to be distributed for Christmas. Therecipients are needy children who would not otherwise receive manyChristmas gifts, said Erin Smith, project co-chair.

“It’s the best way to teach your children a life lesson that itis better to give than to receive,” said Smith.

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Filled with paper ornaments symbolizing needy boys and girlsfrom all over the county, the WISH Trees will be located at Bank ofBrookhaven, Trustmark (downtown branch), Wal-Mart Supercenter(grocery store side) and State Bank (Brookway Boulevard branch).One tree already stands at Bank of Brookhaven. Smith expects othersto be in place by Wednesday.

People can pull as many children from the trees and buy them asmany age-appropriate gifts as they wish, Smith said.

Gifts will be given for children ages birth to 12. Angelornaments represent girls, and stockings symbolize boys.

Instructions for adopting children are located near each tree.The ornament tags don’t have the child’s actual name on them.Instead, they have the child’s number designated to them by theJunior Auxiliary, age, sex, sizes of tops, bottoms and shoes. Sometags even list the special requests some children may have.

Residents are reminded to put the child’s number on every giftthey purchase.

Smith said the names of needy children are provided by schoolofficials, teachers, the Department of Human Services, nurseryschools, counselors and others who have interaction with youngsterson nearly a daily basis.

Following referrals from the different areas, the organizationscreens all applicants. No individual or self-referrals aretaken.

For those who don’t feel comfortable or have time to shop forgifts, JA is taking monetary donations to help with items. Thecontributions will be pooled and split among any children who maynot get adopted.

Smith is urging residents to hurry to meet the deadline forturning in gifts, which is Friday, Dec. 3. Gifts must be turned inunwrapped to the same location in which the names are selected.

Afterwards, JA members will carefully sort through items to makesure they are appropriate for each child and that all children havean equal amount of items. The gifts will be distributed the week ofDec. 5-11.

WISH Tree donations have helped as many as 700 needy children inLincoln County in a given year.