By JOE SUTTER
Shoppers have a chance to brighten a child's Christmas again this year. The Children's Giving Tree is now available at Walmart.
The tree will hold the names of disadvantaged children in Webster County, names provided by Pre-Head Start, Head Start, the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, the YWCA women's shelter and area social workers. No names will be accepted at the store.
All children are 12 years old and younger, said Audrey Best, project chairman.
Names will continue to come in during the program, she said.
"We'll have a couple hundred names on the tree right away," Best said. "Last year we had 480-some. Right now we don't have all the schools' names in yet, but I'd imagine we're around 400 right now."
"If they're doing 500 backpacks at school every week, there are a lot of children out there with nothing," she added, referring to the Backpack Buddies program that sends food home every weekend to kids who may not have enough to eat.
Gift givers can pick a card off the tree with the first name, age, sizes and any special needs of a child.
While organizers ask the public to buy warm winter clothing for the child, they also say participants may "throw in something fun" with the gift.
"If you take a name off the tree, everything you buy goes to that child, but we add more to it, and toys," Best said. "We start buying clothes in January, Dianne (See) and I, out of our own money. We buy everything on sale."
See is co-chairman of the project with Best.
Gifts should be returned in a box near the tree, unwrapped and with the name tag attached. Participants should sign a book provided with the tag number and name taken, plus their own name, Best said.
For those who don't like to shop, a gift card can be purchased and left in an envelope dropped into the Santa's head. Shopping with the card will be done for that child.
Volunteers will wrap the gifts at the end of the program for delivery to the children.
Monetary donations to the Giving Tree project may be made by contacting Best at 972-4378 or See at 576-4683.