BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Dolls, shoes, and bikes are just some of the great gifts provided to children in need through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. At the program's distribution center in Biloxi, organizers and volunteers are busy getting the gifts ready ahead of Christmas.
"It's the most exciting thing I do all year long," Major Beth Sturdivant said.
"We are doing our annual drop off for the Angel Tree program," Luke Patterson with Mississippi Power explained. "Every year we adopt children and today we're bringing by the gifts our employees have collected."
Patterson said bikes were one of their big purchases this year.
"We hope it's a surprise, and we hope parents get it under the tree for kids before the children realize where they came from, to save their dignity a little bit, and just for them to be surprised on Christmas morning," Sturdivant said.
According to Sturdivant, more than 600 South Mississippi children will have a merrier Christmas this year, thanks to the Angel Tree program. Every year is special, but one memory, in particular, stands out.
"I had a mother who came to me, she had cancer, I could not keep her awake long enough to be able to take her application. And of course, as she's telling me her story, and we're applying for her son, we realize that he was over age. He also had leukemia," Sturdivant recalled. "My husband's a huge Cowboys fan, and all he wanted was a Dallas Cowboys jacket and hat for Christmas to stay warm. Needless to say, my family took care of that young man for Christmas."?
Children who receive Angel Tree gifts are 12 and under, and come from families who have applied for Christmas assistance through the Social Services program of The Salvation Army.