silver tree (copy)

Last year’s Silver Angel Tree sits in HeartsWay Hospice’s lobby.

Several Panola County organizations are collecting donations of money and toys through “Angel Tree” programs to benefit local children and families this holiday season.

Mission Carthage, the Rusk-Panola Children’s Advocacy Center and HeartsWay Hospice each have programs where donors may sponsor a child or senior adult with gifts this December.

Mission Carthage

Local charity Mission Carthage conducts their “Christmas Blessings” sponsorship program to purchase gifts for around 500 area kids each year.

Trees displaying participating children and an item from their wishlists can be found at these Carthage locations: First United Methodist Church, First State Bank, Farmers Bank, Prosperity Bank, BTH Bank, Brookshire Brothers and Walmart.

Around half of the total number of kids served by Christmas Blessings register for the program in October, Mission Carthage Executive Director Jennifer Randall said, but many children request assistance much closer to Christmas and do not appear on a tree.

The charity then uses monetary donations to purchase toys for kids who requested help later than October. Donors can send money to P.O. Box 1208, Carthage Texas, 75633.

“The kids are blessed because they’re getting something, maybe just one thing, but they’re getting something on their wishlist,” Randall said. “The families are relieved, because anytime you take stress and pressure off of those in need, it brings them joy.”

HeartsWay Hospice

This year, HeartsWay Hospice of Carthage will conduct their fourth annual Silver Angel Tree drive for area senior adults until Wednesday, Dec. 1.

“HeartsWay wanted to find a way to reach out to our community and spread happiness and joy for Christmas, so we decided to do it for our Silver Angels (seniors),” said. “There are a lot of wonderful Angel trees for children, which we love the idea of and a lot of us participate in helping sponsor some of those children. We at HeartsWay thought of the need for an adult senior citizen Angel Tree.”

The program includes seniors from all over Panola County, both in and outside of senior care facilities.

Donors will receive an angel with information on the gender and likes or wishes of their recipient, but without a name, in keeping with HIPAA regulations. Angels may be requested at the HeartsWay Hospice office at 437 W. Panola St, or by calling (903) 690-9924.

Gifts must be returned to HeartsWay in a large gift bag by Dec. 1 in order to be distributed by Christmas.

Rusk-Panola Children’s Advocacy Center

Children’s Advocacy Centers provide services like legal aid and therapy for children in dangerous or abusive situations. Rusk-Panola CAC’s Angel Tree program distributes gifts to children served by the center in both counties, and their families as well.

“Usually, the way clients get referred here to our center is either law enforcement, CPS or the district attorney’s office when there are concerns of child abuse,” Rusk-Panola CAC Program Director Jennifer Alejandro said. “[The Angel Tree] is not limited to just that one child that came here to our center, it’s also available to their nonoffending siblings in the home.”

Rusk-Panola CAC will take donations of toys, gifts and money for participating families until Dec. 10. Donors may find the center’s Angel Tree with information about each child in their Henderson location at 610 U.S. 79 North.

Donors may also contact the center via Facebook or call (903) 657-0790 to receive an assignment and make a donation. Gifts and money may be dropped off at Rusk-Panola CAC’s Henderson location, or at the center’s satellite office in Carthage at 413 W. Panola St.

Alejandro said the program is in need of gifts for teens this year, as their age group is often under-represented in donations. The program is also seeking businesses to display a CAC Angel Tree on their premises.

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