12/22/08 — Mall wish trees help provide presents for hundreds

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Mall wish trees help provide presents for hundreds

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on December 22, 2008 1:46 PM

More than 650 children and senior citizens in Wayne County will have a much merrier Christmas this year because of holiday shoppers with big hearts.

In early November, Berkeley Mall set out three wish trees in the main entrance -- one for boys, one for girls and one for senior citizens -- where mall goers could help grant a less fortunate neighbor's Christmas wish.

For many, that wish was a gift under the tree with their name on it -- nothing extravagant, nothing pricey.

Since last Friday, the trees are gone, and presents are on their way to Santa's bag for Christmas Eve.

But not everyone who passed by during their shopping excursions grabbed a wish tag.

The goal to fill 800 children and elders' wishes wasn't quite reached, mall Manager Linda Priestley said.

But there were many more people giving this year than they did last year, when mall goers gave 450 people something to look forward to under the tree.

She said she saw a good push by mall shoppers early on to make this year a great one for those children and senior citizens in need, with more than 300 tags taken within the first few weeks of the drive.

In total, 528 children and 154 senior citizens will receive gifts through WAGES, Wayne County Services on Aging and Kirkwood Retirement Community.

Although Ms. Priestley didn't have many words to say, she still showed her excitement about this year's outcome and wanted to thank the people of Wayne County for thinking of others during this holiday season.

"We would like to thank all those in the community that helped make Christmas brighter for these needy people," she said.

The drive showed that even in a tough economic time, people in Wayne County still cared enough to donate a few dollars -- money that will mean millions more to those who receive the gifts, mall officials said.

And what better way to spend those dollars than by giving a child a toy he or she wouldn't otherwise have or by making a senior citizen smile, Ms. Priestley said.

"That's the true meaning of Christmas," she said. "That's why people come back and do this year after year."