?Angel Tree' application begins

By Ed Brock

The line in which Jeannette Buffington stood outside the Salvation Army post in Jonesboro was a long one, but she wasn't waiting for herself.

She was waiting, as were they all, for their children. The line was to apply for the Salvation Army's "Angel Tree" program that provides Christmas presents for those in need.

"I just got here from Chicago," said Buffington, adding that she is a certified nursing assistant in need of a job. "I'm still getting set up."

The 25-year-old Angel Tree program involves getting people to "adopt" a child from a needy family to provide them with Christmas presents. The sponsors are given the child's first name and basic information (sex, clothing and shoe size, toy preference).

Application for the program began Monday and will continue today and maybe Wednesday if there is still room left in the program, said Salvation Army volunteer Charlene Vaughan.

"We're limited to 1,000 children this year," Vaughan said.

Due to relief efforts for this year's busy hurricane season the Salvation Army's resources are limited, Vaughan said. By Monday they had already signed up 500 children.

Applicants should go to the Salvation Army offices at 130 Spring Street between 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Today they will have additional hours for registration between 4:30 and 6 p.m. for working parents.

"I try to save some numbers (for space in the program) for working parents," Vaughan said.

The applicants should bring with them a picture identification and a Social Security card, proof that they live in Clayton County (lease, October bill) and proof for birth dates of children 12 and under such as birth certificates or shot records.

If the Salvation Army gets more sponsors than expected for the program there will be a chance on Dec. 20 to register for the "extra giving."

Buffington's children are 9, 12, 14 and 24. The younger three already have their Christmas wish list ready.

"My little (9-year-old) girl wants ?Baby Alive' and the 12-year-old girl wants a CD recorder," Buffington said. "The (14-year-old) boy wants a scooter but he won't get that. Too dangerous."

People come to need the program for various reasons.

"I adopted two grandchildren," said Linda Hayman of Jonesboro. "He wants a remote car and she wants a ?Reborn Baby.'"

For more information on the Angel Tree or other programs, call (770) 603-6258.