• 64°

Wish Tree deadline extended to Tuesday

Maybe it was Thanksgiving. Maybe it was because of the runoff election.

Whatever the reason, the Nov. 27 deadline for the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven’s annual Wish Tree program “sneaked up” on Ole Brook this year, said Stephanie Henderson, JA first vice president service chair. With the first deadline come and gone and still more than 80 local, needy children remaining to be “adopted” out to the community for Christmas shopping, the JA has pushed the deadline to Tuesday, giving charitable hearts a full weekend to wrap up this year’s event.

“If we want a strong community, if we want great neighbors and a positive society, it starts right here with taking care of our own and making sure every child is brought up so they know they live in a community that cares about them,” Henderson said. “It’s a cycle, it’s all about sharing the love and joy this time of year so those children can grow up and, one day, give back, too.”

Anyone wishing to grab an ornament off the JA’s two wish trees may do so by visiting Broma’s Deli or the lobby at King’s Daughters Medical Center, each of which displays a small Christmas tree decorated with blue and pink paper ornaments listing the age, gender and interests of local children whose families need help making Christmas merry. Shoppers will fill out a tear-off section with their own contact information and drop into the Wish Tree box so the JA can keep track of which children have been adopted.

Shoppers are expected to buy each child two outfits, a pair of shoes and three toys, and the JA will throw in underwear, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste for every child. The group has also done some summer shopping and will drop a few warm-weather items into the gift bags for later in 2019 when the weather warms back up.

Henderson said the organization recommends purchasing a “good, better and best” toy — don’t overspend, but don’t cheap out.

“We don’t want people to break the bank. Keep it reasonable, but also get something you would like for your own children to have,” she said. “And let your own children help choose the toys. For those of us who are blessed to be in a position to help, Wish Tree is a great family outing to really share with your children the meaning of Christmas.”

Shoppers should not wrap gifts, but instead should place each child’s gifts in one bag with the Wish Tree ornament attached. Bags should be dropped off at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce at 230 South Whitworth Ave. or at Betsy Smith Properties at 415 Hwy. 51 South by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

No Wish Tree children will be left out — the JA will take any ornaments remaining on the trees after Tuesday and fulfill the shopping requests. Anyone who wishes to make a monetary donation to the Wish Tree program may mail checks to the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven at P.O. Box 169, Brookhaven, MS, 39602.

Henderson said the JA is also purchasing around 50 bicycles for some Wish Tree children, depending on age and request.

All requests — all families — are thoroughly checked out. Henderson said the JA selects Wish Tree children by referral from school and daycare teachers. Once the children are referred, JA holds two vetting days in October at which the parents present identification, birth certificates, proof of income and other documents to ensure the children selected for placement on the Wish Trees are truly among the community’s most needful.

This year’s Wish Tree program began in early November with 195 children. So far, 115 children have been adopted.

On Thursday, JA placed a third Wish Tree at the Walmart Distribution Center for the company’s employees.