Tagged trees help bring gifts to local children, senior citizens

Published 12:30 am Friday, November 26, 2021

NEDERLAND — Angie Cook has spent four years working to collect gifts for senior citizens. The owner of Sugar Momma Confections on Boston Avenue has a Be a Santa to a Senior tree in the front of her store, and it’s a popular one.

“There are some seniors that request to be on our tree,” she said. “We always run out of tags.”

And when that happens, she’ll sometimes take tags from other trees within the same organization to help out.

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Be a Santa to a Senior is a program run by Home Instead that’s now in its 18th year. The trees collect gifts for up to 4,000 senior citizens in Southeast Texas.

“We service people in facilities and others that are homebound,” said Janette Gunter, manager at Home Instead. “You’d be surprised the people that don’t have family members, and anything they receive might be the only gift they get.”

Trees are located at various locations: Walgreens, CVS, Market Basket, Touch of Cajun, Bronze Body, and Beaumont Bone and Joint, to name a few. The gifts are then distributed to senior citizens in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Chambers counties.

But it’s not just senior citizens that are in need of help for the holiday season.

The Salvation Army also has Angel Trees up at various businesses in the area in order to collect toys for children 17 and under.

“A family in need will sign up with us, and we ask what they need for the holidays,” said Mario Garcia, director of the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club of Port Arthur. “These are families that need extra help, and people from the community ‘adopt’ them.”

Garcia said the Port Arthur program is helping approximately 300 children this year. Parents signed up for assistance in October.

But in the event tags are left, the Salvation Army has a variety of partners to help them purchase the remaining gifts so no child is left without.

“That’s why our partnerships are so important,” Garcia said.

Angel Tree gifts are due by Dec. 9 and will be distributed to the families Dec. 17.

According to the Salvation Army of Texas, the Angel Tree is one of the organization’s largest Christmas efforts — run in conjunction with the Red Kettles.

The Angel Tree began in 1979, whereas the Red Kettles have been part of Christmas since 1891.