By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – By 1 p.m. Tuesday, a full hour before the doors opened, the line outside the Salvation Army’s headquarters on Carnation Street was 40 people long.
They were there on the second day of sign-ups for the annual Angel Tree, which provides Christmas gifts to needy children up to age 12, and folks from all over the four counties the Army serves showed up in force.
First in line, and propped against the glass door, was Kirkland Squires of New Albany. Squires draws disability and had come out to sign up his two children, ages 6 and 4.
“I do what I can for my kids, but this helps out a lot when times are hard,” said Squires, who arrived at the Carnation Street office at 9:30 a.m. to secure his place in line.
Single mother Amanda Jones of Tupelo got there at 10 a.m. to sign up her 11-month-old daughter, Asia.
Jones remembered the Angel Tree from when she was a child, when she and her four siblings received Christmas gifts that, according to her, they “never would have gotten otherwise.”
Last year the Angel Tree provided gifts for some 2,000 children who might have gone without. On Monday, employees and volunteers signed up 175 applicants from Lee, Union, Prentiss and the northern part of Monroe County.
In June the Salvation Army reported an $80,000 decline in yearly donations to date. The lack of funds caused the Army to move out of its spacious thrift store on Robert E. Lee Drive and back into its original location on Crossover Road.
It also caused the organization to discontinue its after-school program after a decade of serving the children of Lee County.
The Angel Tree, however, marches ahead, even at a cost of $100,000 each year to the Army. When the trees go up in mid-November, the organization will need people to adopt as many angels as possible.
Among those angels will be Juan Carlos Acosta’s three children. Acosta, a native of Mexico and a U.S. citizen for 13 years, was laid off from his construction job three weeks ago.
He and his wife are having a hard time making their bills, and although they’re hard-working, proud people, they’re also grateful for the help.
“During the holiday season it just seems like all the bills come at once, and life gets hard for people,” said Acosta. “We really appreciate the good work they do here at the Salvation Army.”
For more information, call (662) 842-9222.
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.