By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
When Community Christmas Tree volunteers started signing children up for the 2012 edition of the Little Jimmie Party, the line of parents was already backed up into the parking lot.
“I lost my job here about three weeks ago,” a woman said as she handed Jacqueline Collins the WIC cards for her children. “My husband filed for disability about a year ago, but hasn’t heard anything back yet.”
Collins, an active youth leader at John Stewart United Methodist Church, volunteered to sign families up for the party for the first time this year. She listened to the information and carefully filled out the cards.
“There’s a reminder on the card of the date of the party which is on Friday, Dec. 21, this year,” Delores French announced to the crowd of people in the Herb Sims Youth Center who were waiting for a turn to register their children for the party. “The party is from noon until 1:30 p.m. If you’re not there to pick up the presents, the gift will be given to another needy child.”
French has given a lifetime of service to children through her church — Greater Mount Zion Pentecostal — as a teacher and cheerleader coach at both Park Central and Bluefield high schools and as a long-time volunteer for the Community Christmas Tree.
“It gets you in the spirit,” Tanja Simmons said. “I like helping kids ... That’s me.” Simmons has been volunteering for the past several years.
“This is my fourth year as a volunteer for the sign-ups,” Irene Farmer said.
“I enjoy doing it,” Michele Colley said. Colley has been coordinating the sign-up volunteers for the past few years. Her daughter, Zoe Colley and Zoe’s friend, Erin Duffy, joined the ranks of the sign-up volunteers.
“We signed up 176 children today,” Colley said. Sign-ups will continue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., this morning, and will be from 3-6 p.m. on Nov. 30, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1.
“The need seems to be great this year, but it’s worth the effort,” Samantha Perry, managing editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph said. The Telegraph has hosted the Community Christmas Tree event since 1917. “When it gets challenging, I remember what (the late) Tom Colley always said: ‘Remember. It’s all for the kids.’ That works for me,” Perry said.
Colley organized the annual parties from the mid 1980s until his death in 2009.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com