Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 18, 2012

Little Jimmie sign-ups near 400 mark at end of day two

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — A steady stream of families flowed into the Herb Sims Youth Center on Stadium Drive in Bluefield during the second day of sign-ups for the Community Christmas Tree party scheduled Dec. 21.

“Well, you have a blessed day,” Deloris French said after taking all the information from a young lady who was signing up four children. “We’ll see you guys at the party,” she added as the children walked away.

“I figured we would have a bigger crowd this morning when we opened the doors, but we have had a steady stream of families in all day long,” Michele Colley said. Colley has served as coordinator for the sign-ups for the last several years and had help from her daughter, Erika Colley.

The Community Christmas Tree tradition started in 1917 Hugh Ike Shott Sr., founding editor/publisher of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph expanded on his idea of holding an annual Christmas party for his employees and also had a party for children of economically challenged families. The party’s expanded in 1929 when the program was broadcast on WHIS-AM radio, and in the early 1930s, included two separate Christmas Tree parties — one for white children in the Ramsey School auditorium and another for African American children at Genoa High School.

In addition to French and Colley, Irene Farmer and Tonja Simmons volunteered to sign up families for the party.

Colley said that volunteers signed up an additional 209 children for the party on Saturday — bringing the total for the first two days to 385. Sign-ups will resume at the Sims Youth Center again on Friday, Nov. 30, from 3 to 6 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

— Contact Bill Archer at