12/24/06 — Taking care of children who have no presents

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Taking care of children who have no presents

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 24, 2006 2:16 AM

For Becky Nighswander and her mother, Evelyn Kite, Christmas starts right after Thanksgiving.

That's when the family heads to the holiday wish trees to find the names of the people on their gift list -- needy children and seniors who without them would find nothing under the tree.

At first they took 22 names off the trees at the local mall, but that wasn't enough. So, they chose 21 more.

And in doing so, they continued a 10-year tradition.

Mrs. Nighswander started small when she first "adopted" children for the holidays. That first year in Omaha, she took only three names off the tree. Her son, Aaron, was 2 years old at the time.

"I felt it's not right that somebody doesn't get something," Mrs. Nighswander said.

Now, Aaron is 14, and Timmy, 12, is also part of the family.

Mrs. Nighswander and her husband, Ron, and extended family came to Goldsboro in 1999. Now, mother and daughter make the trip to the trees a tradition each year.

The shopping begins the day after Thanksgiving when Mrs. Nighswander and Mrs. Kite fill up a room with clothing, books and toys. Tags are chosen off the wish trees to match what is stored in the room.

Each child receives not just one gift, but some clothing, an age-appropriate toy and book and a blanket that Mrs. Nighswander has made herself.

A couple of children said they needed shoes. Their sizes were not in the Christmas room.

Mrs. Nighswander went shopping.

Aaron and Timmy are used to that.

"If they want bubble bath, she will go get them bubble bath," Timmy said.

The brothers said they don't feel they're giving up anything when their mother and grandmother go shopping for other children.

In fact, they are now part of the tradition, helping choose the year's recipients and matching the gifts with the children.

"It's not really a sacrifice, since you're helping people," Aaron said.

As for themselves -- all they say they need are small gifts. Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards and video games are tops on their lists.

"It's just nice getting what we get. It's what we want," Aaron said.

Timmy is a collector. He likes antiques, focusing specifically on toothpick holders and salt dips.

Aaron prefers dragons, teacups and glass ornaments.

And their mother is pretty proud that both teens understand that Christmas is about more than just opening packages.

"They just don't ask for very much," their mother and grandmother said.

The family says they plan to continue their tradition for many more years to come.