Faced with another year of great economic hardship for many local families, volunteers with the Community Christmas Tree are launching their annual campaign to ensure that hundreds of needy children across the region are not forgotten this holiday season.
A drawing of a pitiful girl and boy shown in a desperate scene of poverty has evoked an overwhelming spirit of benevolence in the region since 1917, and organizers are optimistic that the community will once again respond — and ensure a bright Christmas morning for more than 750 area children who would otherwise go without this holiday season.
Sponsored by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, the 2012 campaign goal is $30,000.
Readers of the Daily Telegraph have consistently exceeded the annual goal set by the Community Christmas Tree committee, Community Christmas Tree coordinator and Daily Telegraph Editor Samantha Perry said.
The need is expected to be great this year. More than 400 children were already registered last week during the first-sign up period for the Little Jimmie party.
A second weekend of sign-ups will be held on Friday, Nov. 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Bluefield City Auditorium and Saturday, Dec. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., also at the city auditorium in Bluefield. Parents or legal guardians are required to bring their child’s birth certificate or WIC card.
This year’s Little Jimmie party will be Friday, Dec. 21, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the city auditorium on Stadium Drive in Bluefield. As in year’s past, plans call for giving each child a red bag filled with two toys — selected especially for each individual child — food, treats, a book, toboggan, a pair of gloves and other goodies.
Despite another year of great economic challenges, including more job losses in the region and lay-offs in the mining industry, Perry said organizers hope that the community will once again rise to the challenge and help the volunteers meet this year’s goal.
“We know area families are facing a great need this year, and it is our goal to help as many children as possible,” Perry said. “But we couldn’t pull this off year after year without the help of everyone and, in particular, not without the support and generous donations of the loyal readers of the Daily Telegraph. It truly is the people of this community who make the Community Christmas Tree a success year after year — from those who donate to the campaign to those who volunteer their time shopping, signing up children and performing a variety of other duties. We look forward to a successful 2012 campaign.”
“Little Jimmie’s long history of helping area children illustrates the generosity of the citizens of this area, both in contributions to the party fund and in helping with the
party,” Daily Telegraph Publisher Darryl Hudson added.
Perry said all funds contributed by the community go into the red bags for the children.
“The Daily Telegraph picks up the expenses for decorating and other things so our readers can know their contributions are going toward those toys, toboggans and books — all of those items in the red bags,” Perry said. “This is an all-volunteer endeavor. Virtually every employee at the newspaper assists with this in one way or another, as well as hundreds of people within the community who help register children, who help shop for the children, and who help set up for the party on the day of the actual party. The students at Bluefield High School also provide invaluable assistance each year. Many of the students are volunteer shoppers, and the football and basketball players help with setting up the party, and also volunteer on the day of the event.”
Perry said Don Whitt of Bluefield, Va., will return for his 54th year as an entertainer for the Little Jimmie party. He will once again this year be joined by the Daily Telegraph’s Bill Archer. Whitt has been performing for the Community Christmas Tree since 1958, when he was first asked by the late Cecil Surratt to perform with the band during the Little Jimmie party.
Shopping teams working this year will include French’s Army with Delores French, which shops for children ages newborn to 4 years old; Team Telegraph led by Ashley Copenhaver-Shinault, who will shop for children ages 5 to 6; the Bluefield Rotary and Rev. W.D. Hasty for ages 7 to 8; Spirits with Michele Colley, who will shop for children ages 9 to 10; and the East River Street Rods headed by Jim Dent, who will shop for children ages 11 to 12. Lynn and Carl Burnette will once again serve as the last-minute shopping team.
As in past years, the shoppers will be purchasing all of the toys for the children at the Bluefield Kmart.
Don Rice will once again organize the lineup of gift bags, and Charlie Cole will again provide transportation for the bags from Kmart to the city auditorium with the Cole Harley-Davidson trailer. Dr. Tom Richardson and Linda Sexton will serve as the literacy bag coordinators. Daily Telegraph Advertising Director Terri Hale, and Sales Manager Natalie Fanning will be in charge of decorating for the party and coordinating the shopper schedules with Kmart.
Scott Hamilton of Bluefield will be wearing the magic red suit this year as he steps into the role of a familiar holiday icon who will be making a special appearance at this year’s party.
Perry said the employees at the city auditorium will once again play a big role this year in helping to coordinate the annual party.
Donations Saturday of $200 helped to kick-off the 2012 campaign.
Help is needed to meet this year’s goal. Those who would like to contribute to the Community Christmas Tree program can mail donations to: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, c/o Community Christmas Tree, P.O. Box 1599, Bluefield, WV, 24701; or drop them off at the Daily Telegraph office. Checks should be made payable to the Community Christmas Tree Fund.
• In loving memory of my wife Marie Mckinney, from your sad and lonely husband, Richard $100
• Charles and Nancy Nowlin $100
Today’s tota $200
Previous total $0.00
Total to date $200