Bringing Christmas to Gulf Coast hurricane victims

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 3, 2005

The Times-Journal

In the world of a child there are few, if any, joys greater than Christmas morning. For weeks, even months, Santa Claus, his reindeer and the marvels of his sleigh filled with toys have been talked about, dreamed about and looked forward to as that magic day draws ever nearer.

The jolly old elf (in disguise) may be found in shopping malls, department stores and the lobbies of public buildings. As Christmas nears, he is seen on television, riding on a sleigh in the thousands of holiday parades, with the watching children squealing in delight, breathlessly anticipating the miracles to come.

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As they await them, they scan the night skies, searching for Rudolph, and Dasher and Dancer, and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blixen. They peer up the chimneys beneath the mantel where their stockings are already hung, and they write letters to &8220;Dear Santa: Please bring me . . .&8221;

And when the blessed morning finally arrives, the miracle is as fresh and new and delightful as it was in the beginning, and ever shall be.

No child should ever be without a Christmas morning. Unfortunately, in this year of the great and many storms, thousands of children may not know the joys of Christmas. Their homes are destroyed or at best, uninhabitable; their neighborhoods are gone; even their downtown shopping areas have disappeared in the angry waters and raging winds of Ivan and Katrina. Many of their parents are without jobs temporarily and their futures seem bleak.

This must not happen. The dreams of children should remain alive.

Enter &8220;Toys for Children of the Gulf Coast,&8221; a humanitarian project of Selma’s Church Street United Methodist Church in coordination with the Alabama West Florida Conference. Coordinated locally by the Rev. George Sedberry and Bill Sellier, the project is asking for toys for children up through the sixth grade, &8220;our primary concern,&8221; says Sedberry.

He says there are &8220;thousands of parents in stress, who want for their children the same things we, who are more fortunate, want for ours. I find myself comparing this to the 1990 flood in Elba, where it was like being trapped in a pool of the unthinkable.&8221;

He and Sellier are asking the community to donate gifts through Saturday, Dec. 10.

The gifts need not be wrapped or if you do, tag the package for age and gender. Then bring them to the trailer parked on Selma Avenue in the Methodist Church parking lot, behind the Fellowship Hall, which is the site of Selma’s first supermarket, The Old A&P.

Sellier and Sedberry say if &8220;we put ourselves where the parents of these children are, if we imagine Christmas with no resources, if we forget the intricacies of daily life, then we can let them know we care. And Christmas will be merry for them.&8221;

Meanwhile at Leika’s, of Church Street Methodist, Joy Green and Mary Drue Wheeler are busy with Christmas projects for other children: the Red Bird Mission is packing 50 shoe boxes with gifts for Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. The Mitten Tree goes to the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky and is rapidly filling with mittens for cold hands, many with a little money tucked inside.

So, Church Street United Methodist Church is saying to all:

&8220;Have yourself a merry little Christmas&8221; and asking for your help to make the wish come true.