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Angel Tree receives community support

Photo by Orionna Brumfield/Deaconess Hospice manager Tenesia Wilson (left) and palliative care representative Rhonda Brown decorate the business’ Angel Tree Friday. This is Deaconess’ first year to participate in the program, which is sponsored by the Salvation Army. Angels are available for adoption at their new location at 103 Whitebrook Drive.

Photo by Orionna Brumfield/Deaconess Hospice manager Tenesia Wilson (left) and palliative care representative Rhonda Brown decorate the business’ Angel Tree Friday. This is Deaconess’ first year to participate in the program, which is sponsored by the Salvation Army. Angels are available for adoption at their new location at 103 Whitebrook Drive.

As children all over the world are counting down the days until Dec. 25, some right here in Lincoln County wonder what they’ll wake up to on Christmas morning.

The Salvation Army and Deaconess Hospice are hoping to put presents under those children’s trees, but they need your help. The Angel Tree that is located at Deaconess’ office at 103 Whitebrook Drive has at least 20 “angels” still to be adopted.

Here’s how it works: Individuals or families take a paper angel off the tree, which represents a child needing gifts for Christmas. Each angel ornament includes the child’s age and sex as well as a wish list.

Adopters purchase age appropriate gifts of their choice, place the unwrapped gifts into a bag and securely tape the Angel tag with the child’s numeric code to it. Any electronic game must be rated “E” for everyone and include batteries, if possible.

Return the gifts to the Deaconess office by Dec. 12 at noon.

This is Deaconess Hospice’s first year participating in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Rhonda Brown, a palliative care representative with Deaconess, has bought gifts with her family for angels off other trees in the past. 

“We get an angel every year and it has been amazing,” she said.

Manager Tenesia Wilson said she’s excited to be a part of the program.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone has a good Christmas and those babies deserve it,” she said.

The business put up their tree a week ago and the community has been amazing in its response to it.

“I know that the Salvation Army had around (90 or more) angels to start with, and I did not know honestly how many we could do. I thought 30 would be a stretch, but it’s been an overwhelming response,” Brown said.

They’ve run out of angels once already and added 20 more.

Wilson, Brown and the rest of the team helped spread the word by posting flyers, using social media, and some good ol’ word-of-mouth advertising. Several Brookhaven businesses have adopted angels. “The (Brookhaven-Lincoln County) Chamber of Commerce was a huge help to get the word out to different businesses,” Brown said.

The Angel Tree is a unique program that started in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1979. It involves the community in a direct way allowing them to become personally involved by sharing with those less fortunate in their community. The program provides gifts of new clothing and toys to thousands of children who otherwise might not have anything for Christmas.

Children who are recipients of Angel Tree gifts are from families who have applied for Christmas assistance through the Social Services program of The Salvation Army. During the application process, the clothing sizes and special needs of the children are determined and written on the application and is then transferred to the paper angels ornaments. The angel ornaments contain a code number which corresponds to the client’s application number. All children in a family have the same code number, followed by “1” for the first child, “2” for the second child, etc.

The parents or guardian of every Angel Tree child must go through a screening process in order to be selected to receive gifts through program. Once selected, they must attend three life skill classes. According to the Salvation Army website, the classes are the organization’s way of ensuring each family is educated and held accountable — “Given a hand up, not out” — and hopefully use the tools to better their lives so they are not in need of the Angel Tree program next year.

Registration for Angel Tree assistance takes place from late September to early November through the Salvation Army office in McComb which serves Lincoln, Pike, Wathall, Lawrence or Amite counties in Mississippi or the parishes of Tangipahoa or Washington in Louisiana.

For more information about the Angel Tree at Deaconess Hospice, call their office at 601-823-5990.