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Hundreds of Angels will have a brighter Christmas thanks to donations

Christmas for a lot of children and senior citizens will be brighter following the Vicksburg Salvation Army’s Vicksburg Angel Tree Distribution Friday at the former Cannon Toyota property off East Clay Street.

Janna Torgerson, Salvation Army officer in charge, said about 25 volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kickapoo, AmeriCorps and the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and Advisory Board worked Friday morning loading vehicles with packages to serve a total of 501 individual Angels in Vicksburg — 107 senior and 394 child Angels.

Torgerson said the Salvation Army was able to receive donations to help Angels who were not adopted, and “every child that wanted a bike for Christmas got one.”

She said if anyone missed their appointment, they can call the Salvation Army at 601-456-4444, or go to the Salvation Army office on Mission 66 Monday or Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to get their gifts.

Torgerson said an additional 241 Angels — 198 seniors and 43 children — in Port Gibson will be served at a distribution Monday.

“Hundreds of hours went into the entire project,” she said. “Sitting at the Angel Tree at the (Uptown Vicksburg) mall, collecting and transporting toys, verifying that Angels were returned with appropriate gifts, shopping for forgotten Angels, sorting, bagging and organizing gifts ready for distribution, the distribution itself and clean up.

“It was a massive undertaking with so many Angels and the volunteers made it happen with very few hiccups,” Torgerson said. “Vicksburg volunteers sorted Port Gibson gifts and volunteers from Port Gibson will distribute the gifts on Monday. The Community Council is delivering 97 Senior Angels to the individuals.”

She said two special case families — families with an extreme emergency, dealing with a sick child or a special needs child, or something that is beyond their ability to cope with in addition to Christmas — were adopted this year by sponsors.

The sponsor of a special needs family, Torgerson said, goes beyond providing gifts for the children. They also get gifts for the parents and something for the whole family to enjoy.

She wants to expand the Adopt-A-Family program in 2021 and find sponsors for 10 special case families.

“After just six months in Vicksburg, I have come to expect generosity and a great spirit of community, but this Angel Tree season has blown me away,” Torgerson said. “Warren and Claiborne counties have been utterly amazing.

“To all the corporations, companies, churches and individuals (who adopted Angels,) I thank God for their generosity and giving spirit for those who are struggling,” she said. “I wish I had the words for how thankful I am for the entire community.”

She said all donations to the Angel Tree went to provide for Angels.

“If it wasn’t spent this year, it will be set aside for Christmas 2021,” she said. “Nothing will be wasted.”

She said the Salvation Army’s Kettle Program is still ongoing but short of last year’s collections by $20,000. “We’ve gotten less on our online kettle,” she said. “To get to our online kettle go to vicksburgkettle.org.”