Derrington is an Angel to the angels

Published 9:03 am Monday, December 12, 2016

It was a case of wanting something to do.

And for Louise Derrington, it resulted in her finding the perfect outlet for her energies.

Derrington is the volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army Auxiliary, a position she’s held for the past two years, taking over from former coordinator Pat Wright.

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Her decision to join the auxiliary came after she had been retired for several years after a 24-year career with the River Region Hospital System.

“After I first retired, I kept my grandson, and he outgrew me and started school,” she said. “I realized I just couldn’t sit at home with nothing to do; I had to get out, and I thought, ‘the Salvation Army.’

“I joined, and it’s been a joy ever since.”

It was during an auxiliary meeting she volunteered for volunteer coordinator.

“Pat Wright had done it for a couple of years and wanted to stop. Some asked if anyone wanted to take the position, and my hand shot right up,” she said.

As volunteer coordinator, Derrington is responsible for making sure there are sufficient volunteers scheduled for program like the Angel Tree program, Kettle program and the local Salvation Army’s 911 appreciation program honoring first responders.

Her favorite programs are the Angel Tree and 911 appreciation.

The 911 appreciation program is held every Sept. 11. The auxiliary cooks and serves breakfast to firefighters, police, sheriff’s deputies and emergency medical workers.

“You’ll always find a policeman or firefighter eating during the day,” she said. “We also give them ‘goodie bags’ that contain different things like calendars or hand sanitizers.”

But it’s the Angel Tree that has a special place in Derrington’s heart.

“God has blessed me to be able to afford to provide for my children and purchase things to my grandchildren,” she said. “I feel we should go out and pass that blessing on to others. The purpose of the Angel Tree is to help those people who are trying hard to provide for their families, but find they can’t do it.

“Some people try so hard to and can’t buy things for their children, and I think what the Salvation Army does is give that extra boost.”

Derrington said some people who adopt an angel will sometimes be unable to meet the needs of the person they selected, and will instead bring a gift to the collection area for the person. If any Angel Tree request is not filled, she added, the auxiliary will make up the difference by using funds collected in the kettle campaign.

Besides serving children, the Angel Tree program also serves the elderly who are on low incomes and have problems providing for themselves.

“This year, she said, all the angels have been adopted,” she said.

“At the distribution center, we have the floor marked off in squares by tape and each square has a number that corresponds to a number an Angel Tree package, whether it’s for a child or an adult. This year, we have 457 squares marked off.”

When the person comes by to pickup the gifts, they give the number to someone at the distribution center, they go and get the package and bring it to the car.

“The driver doesn’t even have to get out,” she said.

Derrington said the Angel Tree program for seniors has been changed this year, with only qualified adults served by Meals on Wheels receiving packages. Nursing home residents, who were also on the tree in prior years, will receive presents.

“I enjoy my time working with the Salvation Army,” she said. “I’m glad I joined the auxiliary, and I plan to continue working with it.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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