Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Little Jimmy Foundation

November 19, 2011

Sign ups underway for 2011 Community Christmas Tree party

BLUEFIELD — The line of people getting their children signed up for the 2011 Community Christmas Tree party stretched from the tables inside the Herb Sims Youth Center out into the parking lot as hundreds turned out for the first of four sign-up days.

“Usually it’s kind of slow on the first day,” Tammy Watkins, a 4-year veteran of the party sign-up process said. “When I saw the line, I thought none of the other volunteers had made it yet. In the past, the first day just poked along, but not this year.”

Seven volunteers, along with Samantha Perry, managing editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, started the process of getting the names of children 12 and under signed up for the Dec. 23 party as well as getting some recommendations of what they want for Christmas.

“It’s a real education about what kids want for Christmas this year,” Perry said. While she knew most of the requests, she had to ask other volunteers for help periodically. By the end of the three-hour period, volunteers had signed up 190 children. The sign ups will resume today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“It’s enjoyable,” Marvalene Simon said. “There was a time when I could have used something like this for my family. I think it’s good that we have it now.” This year was Simon’s first year volunteering to sign children up for the party.

“I love it! It’s been great,” A.J. Robinson said. This was also Robinson’s first year volunteering with the Community Christmas Tree — a program that is perhaps better known as the “Little Jimmie Party.”

“It’s a good way to start the holiday season,” Robinson said. “Everyone has been so friendly. It’s like a miniature Christmas party here too.”

Other volunteers included Delores French, Rebecca Perry — both of whom have volunteered for many years, as well as Natasha Merilic, a 5-year veteran volunteer and Irene Farmer who has been volunteering for three years.

After today, sign ups will resume during the first weekend in December, Dec. 2, from 3-6 p.m., and again on Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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