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Santa’s Helpers Plentiful

The time until Christmas is growing shorter by the hour, butthere are still plenty of opportunities to help localunderprivileged children have a merry visit from Santa.

At least four charitable organizations are operating toy andgift drives in Brookhaven this holiday season, and although thosedrives are wrapping up, there are still ways for big hearts to getinvolved. The Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven will acceptlast-minute donations for the Wish Tree program, the Marine Corpsstill has boxes around town for its Toys for Tots drive, theLincoln County Department of Human Services is still “adopting” outchildren and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree at Cracker Barrelrestaurant still has plenty of angels to be plucked.

“We’ve got just about all the kids adopted and just about allthe bags put together, but we’re still taking donations, and westill have a few children left to shop for,” said Buffy Ezell,co-chairman of the JA’s Wish Tree program, Thursday.

Though the JA has successfully found willing Santas for themajority of its 350 children, the club’s women still have Fridaynight to shop for those whose ornaments containing shoppinginformation didn’t get taken from the Wish Tree. Anyone who wantsto donate for the Friday night shop can find JA members wrapping upgift bags at the State Room on Cherokee Street.

Lincoln County DHS, meanwhile, is still looking for willinglocals to adopt from its list of 60 county children who need helpto have a merry Christmas. The agency is looking to supply each ofits children with a few new, unwrapped items that will bedistributed on Dec. 21.

“We want to make sure that all of our children have the supportthey deserve and need during the Christmas season,” said JenniferHart, division of family and child services supervisor.

People can adopt a child from DHS at the agency office at 300East Chickasaw St. The adoption deadline is Dec. 15.

In a program very similar to JA’s Wish Tree, the McComb branchof the Salvation Army has installed an Angel Tree with 60 childrenat Brookhaven’s Cracker Barrel restaurant. The drill is the same -people can take angels from the tree that list a child’sinformation, buy gifts and return them to the tree’s location forpickup. Likewise, the Salvation Army shops for angels that aren’tadopted.

“I thank God the public is willing to help us,” said Angel Treecoordinator Darlene Boone. “People have been generous with us.”

And, of course, the Jackson office of the Marine Corps’nationally renowned Toys for Tots program is also still collectingfor Christmas, with drop-off boxes located at Stan King Chevrolet,Walgreens and Wal-Mart.