Angels help brighten Christmas

Published 1:17 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nearly 20 years after performing an act of kindness, Mae Downing learned how far reaching the act would be. Those acts of kindness continue for the Brewton resident and residents like her throughout the community through involvement in the Brewton Area Christmas Project.

For more than two decades, Downing, along with help from her daughters Patricia and Dawn, has been involved in the Brewton area Christmas Project.

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“Early on in the program we had the opportunity to deliver the gifts we purchased to the recipients,” Downing said. “That year my daughters and I delivered gifts to a young boy who had cancer. I think that experience really touched my daughters. Then, when I started working at the hospital, I had a lady to ask me if it had been us that had made that delivery. It had been probably 20 years since we had made the delivery and she told me that it was her grandson we had visited.”

The fact that a grandmother remembered that act of kindness so many years later is one reason Downing and others like her continue to be involved in the annual Christmas Project.

“This is something that we’ve just always done,” Downing said. “I am happy that I was always able to provide for my children and wanted to help someone else, too. I love Christmas, and I feel strongly that all children deserve to have a special day.”

The Christmas Project coordinated by the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce, pairs individuals with “angels” to be shopped for at Christmas. Michelle Hart, executive secretary for the Chamber, said the letters of acceptance are being delivered to those accepted for the Project.

“We get most of the names of the children on the Angel Tree list from area schools,” Hart said. “We also get names from family assistance agencies in the area as well. Those applications are considered and are either accepted or rejected. Everyone who submitted an application should be getting their decision letter this week.”

Hart said nearly 600 children are on the list this year with Angels already on the lone tree in place for the Project.

“We are serving about the same number of children this year and our Angels are already on the tree ready to be shopped for this year,” Hart said. “Shoppers can choose an angel from the tree and make their purchases based on the information on the back of the angel.”

Hart said a central tree has been put in place this year to help with convenience of distribution of the angels.

“We are only putting out angels at one location this year,” Hart said. “We decided it would be easier for everyone if the angels were available at one place to be picked up.”

Hart said the angels are on a tree near the Home and Pharmacy entrance at Walmart on Douglas Avenue.

For those who plan to make purchases for angels on this year’s tree, Hart said the deadline is quickly approaching.

“We need to have all of the gifts delivered to the Chamber by Dec. 10,” Hart said. “That gives us time to sort the items and to shop for missing items needed to fill the needs of the angels.”

Hart said gifts to be considered when shopping for angels include toys, books, clothes and shoes.

“We want to make sure that each child on the list receives a toy,” Hart said. “We will sort items based on size and style for each child on the list from the items purchased.”

As far as the angels on Downing’s list this year, that shopping has already been done.

“My daughter, Patricia, was here for a long weekend and we did the shopping for our two children together,” Downing said. “Those gifts have already been picked out, purchased and delivered to the Chamber. It’s a good feeling.”

To find out more about the Brewton Christmas Project or to make a donation of gift or money, contact the Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce at 368-3224