Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 21, 2013

Little Jimmie 2013: A tradition of caring

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The big day has finally arrived for more than 800 children across our region. The Community Christmas Tree — and a timeworn drawing of a pitiful girl and boy shown in a desperate scene of poverty — has evoked an overwhelming spirit of benevolence in our region since 1917.

Today, a good 96 years later, that tradition continues. We made our goal once again — despite a still difficult economy. Folks across the region came together, and helped to ensure a happy Christmas for hundreds of children who would otherwise go without this year. All of the toys have been purchased.

The hundreds of bright red bags have been stuffed. It’s time for the big party to begin!

Today, when more than 800 children gather at the Bluefield City Auditorium on Stadium Drive, a venerable tradition of caring and giving continues in Bluefield.

When we launched the 2013 Little Jimmie campaign last month, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. But our readers responded in a big way. A generous $10,000 donation from Phipps Mineral Holdings Ltd of Corpus Christi, Texas helped to kick off this year’s campaign on a very positive note. And on the second day of the campaign, we received an anonymous $2,500 donation from “For Terri — she loved her children!”  It was a great way to start the 2013 campaign.

Once again this year we not only met our campaign goal of $30,000, but also surpassed it thanks to an overwhelming outpouring of support from the community.

The Little Jimmie campaign is about one simple message: No child should go without at Christmas. And we back up those words with an army of volunteers and an influx of community generosity.

Times are still tough for families right here in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. For those families who must also contend with rising food, heating and energy costs, today’s party comes at a critical and welcomed time.

Today, help — and Santa Claus — arrives four days early for more than 800 children across our region. The doors to the Little Jimmie party at the Bluefield City Auditorium will open at noon, with music and entertainment beginning at that time with another fantastic music show prepared by Don Whitt and the Daily Telegraph’s Bill Archer. Santa Claus will arrive at about 12:20 p.m. Volunteers will begin distributing the hundreds of red bags stuffed full of toys, books, fruit, gloves, toboggans and other goodies at 12:30 p.m.

To every individual, business, civic agency and volunteer who contributed to, supported or helped with this year’s party, we say thank you. Today’s event would not have been possible without you.

This includes all of the volunteers who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this year’s party a success, including those who purchased the hundreds upon hundreds of toys that will be distributed today, as well as those who helped to stuff the more than 800 bags full of toys and other goodies.

After weeks of planning, preparation and anticipation, the big day is finally here.

A timeworn tradition of love and caring continues. The image of Little Jimmie — the drawing that has served for more than nine decades as one of the most enduring symbols of the Community Christmas Tree — has once again accomplished its goal of assuring a joyous Christmas for hundreds of children in need across our region.

Thank you! Let the big party begin. And Merry Christmas to all.