Salvation Army distributes Angel Tree gifts
Published 10:19 am Friday, December 12, 2014
In the dark recesses of River City Tumble and Cheer’s garage, a man emerges from the shadows hoisting a tricycle in the air. Like Batman leaving the Bat Cave, he strides up to a white van and carefully places it inside.
The woman in the van smiles and yells out a hardy thank you, while he and another volunteer put the rest of her Christmas presents in the trunk. She drives away with a smile, and the man goes back into the bowels of the garage again.
This played out hundreds of times Thursday as the Salvation Army distributed its Angel Tree presents to 265 families across Warren County.
This year’s Angel Tree drive accumulated Christmas presents for 655 children and a host of senior citizens who otherwise could not afford gifts.
As many as 50 cars every half-hour pulled up to the side of 1420 Washington Street to receive their presents in an effort to improve the holiday season for them and their families.
“It’s a feel-good kind of moment, It’s a lot of work,” Salvation Army Angel Tree chairwoman Kamace Priest said. “We have 300 cars come through in a matter of four hours, so you’ve got to be organized, otherwise you’ll have mass chaos. Like I said, it went real smooth.”
Carrie Callender presided over the bicycles Thursday, arranging them into neat rows and checking them off of a colorfully highlighted list as they were taken outside to families. With hundreds of children clamoring for bikes from Santa,
Callender has one of the most important jobs in Vicksburg on this day.
“We had all the bikes labeled in order, and the bags are labeled saying that family has however many bikes as they have. When that number’s called, we verify with that bag that they should have bikes,” Callender said. “On the way out the door, I have my list highlighted so we know what bikes are going out the door, and I mark them off to make sure that they were accounted for.”
Hundreds of black bags filled with toys were slowly dwindled down to a few, and the dozens of volunteers who milled about ate sandwiches and waved to passing cars while a woman held up a sign that says “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”
To them, this day marked the true meaning of Christmas spirit.
“You’re giving back to the community and you’re making a child smile,” volunteer Cappy Martin said. “What we do, we do from the heart. That’s our reward.”