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JA Wish Tree goal to provide happy holiday

A Brookhaven civic club is continuing its tradition of giving back during the holiday season.

     Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven is in the midst of its annual Wish Tree project, which allows more than 200 children in the area to experience a Christmas who may otherwise not.

     Gerri Miller, JA co-chairperson of 2012’s Wish Tree, said the group is committed to helping others.

     “Women in JA work very hard to get this done,” she said. “For everyone involved it encases the real meaning of Christmas.”

     For a child to be eligible for Wish Tree, a teacher, counselor or administrator at their school must refer them. Their parent or guardian must then go to a screening to confirm eligibility.

     Once a child is deemed eligible, an ornament is made for them and placed on a tree located in a business. When people go in that business and see the tree, they can look through the ornaments that include the child’s name, age, gender and other information and select one.

     Each child in the program gets at least two new outfits, new shoes, socks, underwear, a toothbrush and toothpaste and two toys.

     Miller said not to be worried if one person can’t fulfill everything.

     “Just because you can’t purchase everything on the list doesn’t mean you can’t participate,” she said. “Any gifts purchased are greatly appreciated and help the program.”

     Often, multiple people go in together on one child in order to make sure that child has everything Wish Tree is asking for, said Miller.

     “When you turn in the purchased items and ornament, we collect them and know what we need to do to complete the list,” said Miller.

     The three trees are located at both entrances of the Brookhaven Walmart and State Bank and Trust on Brookway Boulevard and will be there until the first week of December.

     Miller said JA would like to have all gifts turned in to the State Bank and Trust State Room downtown by Dec. 7 so the group can spend Dec. 9-14 compiling gifts and making sure the lists have been fulfilled.

     On Dec. 15, the gifts will be distributed to the parents or guardians of the children in black trash bags so the parents can present the gifts as they wish, said Miller.

     “I want to make sure no one goes to school after Christmas and hasn’t had the same Christmas experience as the other children,” said Miller.

     For more information or to make a donation, call Miller at 601-624-2799. Checks for Wish Tree can also be mailed to P.O. Box 169, Brookhaven, MS 39602.

     Miller said anyone who would rather not do the shopping but would still like to contribute is welcome to send a check.

     “We are more than happy to go shopping for anyone who can’t,” she said. “All money we take in goes directly to the Wish Tree program.”