By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Almost 200 children were signed up Friday to receive a bag of Christmas wishes.
This year’s Community Christmas Tree party takes place on Dec. 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Bluefield City Auditorium. Sign-ups for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s Little Jimmie campaign continue today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the city auditorium.
Parents are asked to bring either their children’s WIC card or CHIPS (children’s health insurance) card, or the child’s birth certificate.
People leaving the auditorium after registering their children for gifts said the program was one of the only ways the children would have presents for Christmas. When Friday’s session was finished, 194 children had been signed up for gifts, said volunteer Michele Colley.
“Oh, I think it’s great,” said Gail Ball, of Bluewell, who had just signed up her grandchildren. “I think it’s so good. There are so many children out there, and with the economy, people just don’t have the finances like they used to have. I tell you, times are getting worse. This is great for the children.”
The Little Jimmie campaign provides Christmas toys, gifts, books, gloves, toboggans, food and other treats every year to hundreds of local children. One Tazewell County woman said that without the party, she would be choosing between paying bills and buying Christmas presents for her little girl.
“I think it’s a good thing for the community,” Amanda Huffman, 32, of North Tazewell, Va., said. “It helps a lot of parents out.”
Some parents were not sure exactly how they would fulfill their children’s Christmas wishes if the Community Christmas Tree did not exist.
“I’d just be going out and doing the best that I can,” Tyler Johnson, 29, of Bluefield, said as he waited in line. “I think that it’s nice there’s something like this for our children.”
Christie Cote, 39, of Bluefield, said she would have to borrow money for Christmas if the campaign was not available.
“If it wasn’t for this, we would be in trouble,” she said, looking at the volunteers signing up families. “They’re awesome. They do really good things for these kids. The kids usually get everything they want, and extras.”
Volunteer Delores French said people started lining up at the auditorium’s door at least a half hour before the sign-ups began.
“We can’t be late,” French said. “It’s a good thing we recruited a few extra people.”
Colley quickly signed up 11 people. In the first half hour, 60 to 70 people signed up for the Community Christmas Tree.
First-time volunteer Carol Bailey said she wasn’t surprised to see so many people register their children.
“They’ve been very nice and orderly, and that’s good,” she said.
Daily Telegraph Lifestyles Editor Jamie Parsell-Null and reporter Anne Elgin helped sign up families along with veteran volunteers Irene Farmer and Rebecca Perry. Volunteers Tina Calvo and Ron Perry also helped with Friday’s signing up.
A second weekend for signing up will be on Friday, Dec. 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both days of signing up will be at the Bluefield City Auditorium.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org