By Riley Manning
TUPELO – It came down to the wire, but all 1,000 wish lists have been adopted from the Salvation Army’s yearly Angel Tree.
Susan Gilbert, director of social services, said the problem now is wrangling gifts for kids whose lists were not returned by this past Saturday’s deadline.
“As of (Tuesday morning) 92 lists are still missing,” Gilbert said. “A local church donated some money this morning, leaving about 50 lists to be taken care of.”
When the Angel Tree has unadopted wish lists, the nonprofit fulfills them out of its own pocket. While this ensures each child will receive his or her request on Christmas morning, it also takes money that could be put toward other projects to help those in need within the community.
Still, Gilbert said this year’s progress so far is better than usual. With the help of local businesses and organizations, the wish lists of younger children have largely been filled.
“But we’re still needing gifts for the older children, boys and girls aged 10 to 12,” Gilbert said. “Specifically, we need board games and CD players. We hope to have those by this afternoon.”
As for the already-submitted gifts, around 20 volunteers are working to sort and organize them for delivery on Friday.
The Angel Tree went up Nov. 11 and offered anonymous wish lists of local children and families in need. This year’s tree represented more than 400 area families.
In addition to toys, Gilbert said this year the Army wanted every Angel to receive some type of hoodie or jacket, as many struggling families may be trying to save money on heating costs during the winter months.
Each list costs around $75, and many businesses step in to fill the more expensive needs such as bicycles.
After delivery of the gifts to families on Friday morning, in the Tupelo Furniture Market’s Building V, the Army will focus its efforts on its signature red kettle campaign and the annual Empty Bowl event in March.