11/27/06 — Trees offer shoppers chance to share spirit

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Trees offer shoppers chance to share spirit

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 27, 2006 1:45 PM

Four-year-old Keisha doesn't want a lot for Christmas -- a doll of her own, a pair of warm gloves and maybe even a new outfit.

She is just one of the names of needy children in the community who without the help of a Santa Claus will not find anything under the tree this year.

The wish trees at the Berkeley Mall bears the names of more than 600 children as well 200 tags for some Wayne County seniors. On the tags are holiday wishes that include everything from a toy to simple necessities.

Mall Manager Linda Priestley said it takes only a little time and money to make a child's holiday brighter.

"For these children, this is all they'll get," she said.

Most of the children recommended for inclusion on the trees by the Wayne Action Group for Economic Solvency have lists that contain just a few items -- a doll, a coloring book and crayons, maybe a new coat or a pair of shoes.

While a list might contain a handful of items, even the donation of one or two can make a huge difference in a child's life, or in the life of an elderly person, Mrs. Priestly said.

"People don't have to buy everything on the back of the tag. Something's better than nothing," Mrs. Priestly said.

Even items that many people would consider just a bonus gift, like a stocking full of candy, could turn an empty Christmas morning into something special, she said.

"When you're on a limited income, those are luxury items," she said.

And although children are the focus of the holiday giving, many seniors can feel alone and forgotten at this time of year. For someone who depends on Social Security and Medicare to get by, a Christmas gift is out of the question.

"Some of these seniors get nothing," Mrs. Priestly said. "Their children don't visit them during Christmas, and they don't get a gift."

Last year, many of the tags on the trees were pulled off by generous Wayne residents, but not all of them. Mrs. Priestly said. To think of a child without a gift at Christmas is something that should touch even the most harried shopper, she said.

"There's always a lot left over each year. We had about 100 children who didn't get anything last year."

She hopes this year's tree will be bare before the Dec. 14 deadline.

"I've never seen it before. But it would be wonderful," Mrs. Priestly said.

Wrapped gifts can be dropped into a box at Kay Jewelers, which is located near the trees. After the gifts are picked up, they are taken directly to WAGES for distribution.