Golden Angel Tree remembers senior citizens at Christmas

By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – In the season of giving, the needs of children receive a lot of attention.
However, Chick-fil-A in Thompson Square is making sure that the wishes of senior citizens don’t get lost in crowded mall shops and cluttered toy aisles with its annual Golden Angel Tree.
The Golden Angel Tree works similarly to the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. In five local nursing homes, nurses gather brief Christmas lists from their patients. Lists are transferred onto tags and hung on the tree in the restaurant. Chick-fil-A diners choose a list, shop for the items, and return them to the restaurant for distribution.
“Nursing homes are limited in what they can provide, and often their families don’t have the resources because of medical bills,” said Trina Finley, who started the Golden Angel Tree in 1999. “Of course, some residents are left out by their family or don’t have any at all.”
She said the lists often contain the most simple of requests. Lists consist of only three items.
“They ask for snacks, lotion, slippers, maybe a baseball cap or even something as basic as a remote control,” Finley said.
As gifts are turned in to the restaurant, they are wrapped and put under the tree. Finley said at this point, all of their lists have been adopted. However, they still welcome department store gift cards because every year, some lists are taken, but no gifts are returned.
“There’s no way to know until we start sorting them out, but we usually have about 30 lists that are adopted and never filled. Then we have to scramble to buy things for them,” she said.
In the Golden Angel Tree’s first year, it drew a mere 50 lists, but now sports almost 500.
riley.manning@journalinc.com