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Salvation Army ‘Angel Tree’ blesses Port Arthur community

A handful of volunteers across Jefferson County spent most of their Friday morning and afternoon fulfilling wishes.

Volunteers from Salvation Army, Royalist Men and United Methodist Men handed out thousands of bikes, toys and clothes to families in need during the holiday season under the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree program.

The program provides new clothing and toys for children of families in need through the support of donors. Port Arthur donors include Total Petrochemical and other local refineries and entities.

Sandra Conner, a Salvation Army volunteer and Angel Tree coordinator, has been organizing the event for the past two years.

Hundreds of families and thousands of children in need across Port Arthur and surrounding communities received brand new bikes, toys and necessities Friday afternoon under the Salvation Army’s annual Angel Tree program. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“Angel Tree started up to help children in Port Arthur and the surrounding areas who are unable to get presents from Santa,” she said. “They get a bicycle, something they need and something they wished for. Even the infants get car seats, diapers and things they are in need of.”

Friday at the Grace Church of the Nazarene in Port Arthur, volunteers passed out hundreds of gifts from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“This is just a joy, because I’d just be sitting at home doing nothing,” Conner said. “To come here and do this in fellowship is just something that I’m enjoying doing. One lady was just so enlightened with the stuff that she was given today, because she has nine children and she’s a young mother with that many kids, it just brought tears to her eyes.”

Last year Conner serviced 1,245 children, bringing this year’s total to nearly 1,400.

“My favorite part is just being with the ladies, getting it together and seeing the joy on the families’ faces when they come to pick up the toys,” she said.

Conner, along with other volunteers, also belongs to an organization called the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program or RSVP.

Royalist Men volunteers Alvin Frazier, right, and Kevin Kelly, left, wheel out a bike to a mother in need during their volunteer hours servicing the Port Arthur Salvation Army Angel Tree program. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Brenda McCall and Beverly Higgens are both a part of RSVP and spent their day volunteering their services.

“Since I retired, helping people is something that I want to do,” McCall said. “I enjoy coming here seeing that the kids are able to get what they want and that we are able to feel the needs they have.”

Higgens, sporting a Christmas tree headband and green sweater, said she loves helping the kids that don’t have anything.

“I just love to help people, so this made my day,” she said. “It’s the holidays and I’m just full of Christmas spirit. I’m a Christmas tree and that’s what I want to be for the underprivileged children, it has just made my Christmas beautiful.”

For more information, visit salvationarmyusa.org/usn.