Those who need help putting Christmas cheer under the tree for children this year can look to the Angel Tree.

The Salvation Army is launching the annual program, which helps kids from newborn to 12 years old have a happy holiday season. Applications are being accepted now through Oct. 22.

In a typical year, Manager Michelle Miles sees 120 to 150 youngsters added to the tree. Community members are then asked to adopt an angel and provide clothing and a few toys.

“There’s been many, many Christmases I have seen that if the people in our community didn’t adopt these children, we would have children that wouldn’t have anything for Christmas,” said Miles. “We see that firsthand.”

Parents who wish to apply can get an application packet at the Salvation Army on Lackey Drive. Eligibility is based on income versus expenses, while other challenging life circumstances may also be considered. That could be “anything from having to have a vehicle fixed to losing a job to being in the hospital,” said Miles.

The Salvation Army usually sees 120 to 150 applicants. Parents need to provide the children’s clothing sizes and suggest a few toys the children would like.

It has been a busy time for the organization in recent months.

“We are experiencing a high number of requests as far as with utility bills and rental assistance, and we have seen a huge increase in requests for food,” said Miles. “And we’re helping more families right now than we have in a really long time. I am concerned because I’m afraid this Christmas is going to be really tough.”

Around the first week of November, the organization will ask the community to begin making adoptions. She especially encourages small business workers to consider joining together to adopt an angel. Several people putting in $20 together would help a child have a wonderful Christmas, said Miles.

“We had several school clubs that adopted angels last year, and that worked wonderfully,” she said. “That was a blessing.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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