ADOPT AN ANGEL: Salvation Army also looking for volunteers to help out

Published 7:44 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

By Gabrielle Terrett

The Vicksburg Post

Angels will sing for joy Christmas morning after seeing that Santa has stopped by.

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The Salvation Army will soon be receiving gifts for children through its Angel Tree program. The Angel Tree event is one in which volunteers are allowed to stand in Santa’s place for a day and give gifts to children.

Volunteers select a child’s wish list off the designated Christmas tree and return the list with the gifts before Christmas.

“We encourage everyone to drop gifts off at the mall,” said Kamace Triest, director of the distribution center for the Angel Tree.

“The Salvation Army is already tight so we have a secure storage area in the mall where we store the gifts until they are taken to the distribution site.”

To adopt an angel simply visit the tree and make a selection. Angels will be available for adoption from Nov. 24 to Dec. 10 between 10 a.m. and 8. p.m.

This year’s Angel Tree will be located at Pemberton Square Mall in front of Dillard’s and volunteers will be available to assist those who wish to donate.

Donors should return the gifts in a clear plastic bag, free of decoration, with the child’s list attached.

The organization has worked hard to ensure that every child receives a Christmas gift this year and in the years to come. The event has been going on in Vicksburg for years and the Salvation Army has no intentions to stop the Angel Tree.

“It is annual,” said Triest, “and I’ve been involved for six years and we do plan to do it again next year.”

With its Angel Tree program, the Salvation Army allows parents to apply for children to receive a gift for Christmas if they are not able to provide a gift of their own.

All angels were taken up between September and October and have been selected through the Salvation Army according to which family needs the most assistance.

“Parents submit a list and social workers go out and get information from them to see if the children are eligible,” Triest said. “We then take that list and create our Angel Tree out of the children’s Christmas list.”

The event is one of the largest gift donations in Vicksburg and each year more than 300 angels are adopted for Christmas and receive a gift.

“This is an auxiliary women Salvation Army event,” said Triest. “We’ve got 141 families, which comes out to about 350 children. We have people, friends, organizations and groups that do toy drives for us and whatever child is left, if it is in the budget, we purchase a gift for them.”

The best part about the event is the anonymity of it all. The recipients do not know the donors and the donors don’t know the recipients, which makes the task much more of a Samaritan donation.

The donor’s names are not applied to the gift and no personal information is given to the angel about the donor.

“We don’t want the recipients to feel as though they owe somebody something,” said Triest.

“And we want the donors to give from the goodness of their heart, not with the thought that they will receive something back.”

Though the process is simple, the Salvation Army needs volunteers to man the adoption sites. Volunteers are responsible for assisting with the adoption process, gift drop off and the gift distribution and are desperately needed. Those interested in volunteering should contact the Salvation Army office at 601-636-2706.

“Volunteers help with adopting out angels, receiving donor information, telling the donors where to bring the gifts, telling the donors when to bring a gift, because there is an end date for the gifts,” said Triest. “They also help with receiving the gifts.”

The joint effort of the donors and the volunteers has brought joy to the angels for years, according to Triest.

“The purpose of the Angel Tree is to give gifts to kids that may not get them,” said Triest. “It helps people to provide gifts to people in need on Christmas mornings.

“Parents respond with anything from a simple thank you to jumping for joy because they are just so thankful.”