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Features Giving back during the holidays

Giving back during the holidays

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Miss USM Kimberly Page performs at Lighting the Way on Tuesday night.  Lighting the Way is an annual holiday event sponsored by the Student Government Association that features performances from various groups on campus.  Kara Davidson/Printz
Miss USM Kimberly Page performs at Lighting the Way on Tuesday night. Lighting the Way is an annual holiday event sponsored by the Student Government Association that features performances from various groups on campus.
Kara Davidson/Printz

During the holiday season, many people are worried about giving gifts to their family or friends, all while making their own Christmas list to ensure they get the items they want.

But, there are many people who will go without gifts and animals who will freeze or starve on the streets this year, but you can help. Here are a few ways you can give back in the Pine Belt area to help a child, a senior citizen, a homeless person or a shelter animal during the holidays.

*The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program
The Angel Tree Program was started 55 years ago to help serve low-income and poverty-level families in the community. Angel ages range from infant to 12 years old. Donors can pick an angel off the tree and purchase items on the attached list. The list contains items the child or the family have requested for Christmas, such as educational toys and new clothes.

Without the Angel Tree, these children would not be able to open gifts on Christmas morning. The Angel Tree is located in Turtle Creek Mall near JCPenney and unwrapped donations can be dropped off there through Dec. 12.

*Be a Santa to a Senior Program
This program is similar to the Angel Tree Program, but instead of children, it sponsors senior citizens. The program is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care and this is the fifth year for the tree to be in the Pine Belt area.
It was started because many senior citizens live at home, far away from their family and don’t receive many visits during the holidays. Donors can choose a senior citizen ornament from the tree and purchase some items on the list. Many items are typical everyday things, such as pajamas, Kleenex and lotion. Some even ask for certain types of food or books.

The Senior Citizen Tree is located in Turtle Creek Mall near the Food Court. Unwrapped donations will be accepted through Dec. 12 at the Home Instead Senior Care office in Hattiesburg.

*The Fur Baby Tree Program
The Fur Baby Tree Program sponsors needy dogs in the Pine Belt area and the donation tree can usually be found at different veterinarian offices and pet stores, such as PetSmart or Petco. The tree contains ornaments with a photo of a dog and a list of items that a particular dog needs, such as a new bed, food or toys.

*Christian Services, Inc.
Keep an eye out for different organizations that are putting on canned food drives in the community. One organization, Christian Services, Inc., located in downtown Hattiesburg, is always accepting canned food donations for families in need in the community. They also serve Christmas meals to the homeless or hungry.

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