Salvation Army hopes to fulfill 5,000 holiday wishes

By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Salvation Army of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's Angel Tree campaign is now underway. This year, more than ever, they need help from the community to make 5,000 names disappear off their trees. They are the names of not just children, but also the elderly who, without this angel tree, would receive no Christmas cheer.

The Lynn Meadows "Comets" singing group, helped ring in the Christmas Season at the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Kickoff. But before they performed, many of the girls couldn't wait to be the first to grab names off the Angel Tree at Edgewater Mall.

Claire Simpson was excited to find a girl her age named, Terran.

"I kind of just looked at the tree and saw a girl and said, 'Ooh, she's age 10 like me,'" Simpson said. "So I just got one and she likes DS games just like me."

Her mom, Traci Easterling, doesn't mind the extra shopping or the money she'll spend.

"We're looking forward to buying for another child that might not have such a great Christmas," Easterling said.

She also likes the lesson her young daughter is learning in the giving process.

"Responsibility of community service and helping others at Christmas."

There are 5,000 names on Angel Trees across the coast. Ten-year-old Anna Marie Bentz can't wait to become a little baby's Christmas Angel.

"I think she would like a book and like some Barbie dolls," Bentz said.

When asked if she was excited to buy those things for someone else, Bentz said, "I really am because I know it's for a good cause."

The Marines will help fill in the gaps, just in case there are some names left on the tree. But Belinda Hill with the Salvation Army hopes everyone comes out to take a name and fill a child's Christmas morning with joy.

"Please, please do," Hill said. "We would love for them to come out and adopt an angel. It's just a really fantastic program."

To pick a name, just visit Edgewater Mall in Biloxi or any Wal-Mart store. You may also call the Salvation Army at (228) 374-8301 to find an Angel Tree near you.

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