Salvation Army volunteers distribute gifts to those in need

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, December 14, 2017

The old Cannon Toyota building on East Clay Street was back in operation Thursday as Salvation Army Volunteers made Christmas a little brighter for 348 children and 105 senior citizens in Vicksburg and Warren County.

“This is my first time; I’m excited about this,” said Kiara Wilson as volunteers loaded bicycles and packages of toys and clothing for her children into her car. “This is helping me out; I’m barely making it. This is nice. I feel good; I’m blessed.”

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Salvation Army Auxiliary member Kamace Priest, who has participated in the Angel Tree program for six years, said the Cannon Toyota building is a new location for the distribution center.

“We used to do it at River City Tumble and Cheer on Washington Street,” she said. “But this building was offered this year. (State Rep.) Oscar Denton was able to get it for us. It’s much more traffic friendly.”

The distribution center was set up in the building’s service area, where instead of cars, tools, racks and equipment, numbered taped squares covered the floor, each occupied by one or two plastic bags containing items for either children or adults.

“Each bag has a number and some have a reminder that children are getting bicycles,” Salvation Army Maj. Steve Welch said. The bicycles occupied a separate section in the service area. He said registration for this year’s Angel Tree began in mid-September.

As they drove onto the lot, clients handed a volunteer a form outlining whether the package was for children or an adult, and giving the applicant’s name and number. A sticker with the number was attached to the vehicle’s windshield and the client was directed around the rear of the building to the service entrance area.

As the clients made their way around the building, volunteers on the other side were notified by radio of the number so they would have the items ready to load in the vehicle. Some of the clients came in pickups, some in cars and some in vans. Each were quickly loaded with packages and the drivers given directions to get back on East Clay.

“We’ve got volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard, Ergon and members of the women’s auxiliary and their husbands,” Priest said.

“I was here last year,” said Chris Moss, a petty officer first class with the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Division office in Vicksburg. He was one of several Coast Guardsmen helping out at the center.

“I’m just trying to help the community and give some kids a nice Christmas. This is a good event.”

Priest agreed, adding she continues volunteering with Angel Tree “because it’s doing something good for the community and because I want to help children have a good Christmas.”

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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