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JA plants Wish Trees to give Christmas to needy children

The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven’s annual Wish Tree programhas begun, and the race to make Christmas merrier for 300 LincolnCounty children is off and running.

The information for the children – listed as numbers to protectidentities – are hanging as ornaments on seven small Christmastrees standing at six locations around Brookhaven, waiting forcharitable citizens to pluck them off and sponsor their Christmas.Teachers from city and county schools have referred the children toJA.

“These are kids who would not really have Christmas,” said JAWish Tree co-chairwoman Heather Douglas. “We hope the good peopleof Brookhaven will help us out of the goodness of theirhearts.”

The Wish Trees are located at Bank of Brookhaven, Broma’s,King’s Daughters Medical Center, State Bank, Trustmark NationalBank and two at Wal-Mart.

Some trees are already up. All will be in place thisweekend.

The rules are simple. Anyone interested in sponsoring a childmay take a two-piece ornament from any of the seven trees. Thenumbered piece is placed in the JA box to let the organization knowwhich child is being sponsored, and the piece with information iscarried with the sponsor for shopping.

JA is asking that mostly useful items be purchased for thechildren, with a few toys thrown in to keep the holiday spiritalive. The organization suggests items such as a pair of outfits,pajamas, underclothes and three different toys.

Items should be returned unwrapped to the tree location with thechild’s ornament attached by Tuesday, Dec. 2. JA members makeseveral trips each week to pick up the items.

Douglas said sponsors don’t have to buy everything on thesuggested list. Any items that go toward the final gift bag helpthe cause.

“If you can’t get everything, that’s fine – anything to helpus,” she said.

She also said children may be sponsored strictly monetarily. Ifsomeone wants to help but doesn’t have the time to shop,contributions can be made to JA and its members will take care ofthe shopping.

JA has set no price limit or suggestion on the items – sponsorsare encouraged to spend whatever amount they are comfortablewith.

Douglas admitted that the unstable economy has affected WishTree, as it has all charity drives, but the JA members are steamingahead. A good deal of shopping has already been done, she said, andthe organization’s warehouse is slowly filling up.

It’s a good thing JA has a head start on the shopping becauseextra supplies are a must.

Even if not all the 300 wish children are sponsored, none willbe left out. The organization ensures that every child on the listreceives Christmas gifts.

Last year, 290 of the 330 children on the list were adopted,with JA taking care of the remaining 40.

Douglas said she hopes Brookhavenites will come through asalways to help needy families this Christmas.

“We do this every year because of the first mom that comes incrying and says, ‘thank you,'” she said. “Trust me, we get more outof Wish Tree than we put into it.”

For more information on the Wish Tree program or how to assistJA, interested people may call the organization at 601-757-0630.The child referral deadline has passed, and JA can accept no morechildren into the program this year.