My wife and I feel blessed to have been able to baby-sit the Salvation Army Christmas Tree every Friday night of the program since we started 12 years ago.

Of course, that’s just the fun part. There are all sorts of jobs that must be done to insure the program’s success. Besides the volunteers, we need a compassionate and generous population.

We start with a cadre of Salvation Army personnel who supervise the operation. It is supplemented with many volunteers. Volunteers help to fill out the applications for those who must place their children in the program. We also sort the canned goods and other non-perishables that have been donated for distribution. We carry out presents and food boxes on distribution day and clean up the mess afterwards.

Each nursing home in Muskogee County submits names of angels (residents) who have no family nearby to provide gifts for them. For the last six or seven years, my wife and I have been closely associated with this aspect of the program. A young lady of 86 (she thinks I’m a youngster at 77) whom we all call, “Miss June,” does the brain work of getting the names and wishes of all nursing home angels.

This year’s 243 angels more than doubled what we had last year.

Sadly, I have found that we have a 3-4 percent mortality rate from the time we receive the angels until we deliver the gifts. On the bright side, this year I had a 101-year-old man whose wish was a jogging suit.

We all have mixed emotions when we listen to the comments of the recipients. Most folks appreciate their gifts and are elated. However, some say, “But I ordered a bike and a remote-controlled car plus jeans and some shoes and all I got….”

I guess that’s where we’ve gone astray. You don’t order your gifts. You make a wish list to Santa Claus. If a generous Santa selects you from the Angel Tree, you may get it all.

When you select an angel you will see a code, such as 322D. The 322 identifies the family. D identifies the child. This tells you that there are at least four children in the family as there must also be a 322A, 322B and 322C and possibly more. When we realized that with six kids in the family, they may be adopted by six different Santas.

For this reason, a few years ago we started adopting the whole family in order to give the children equal gifts. If adopting a family or even an entire nursing home turns your crank, next Christmas contact the Salvation Army at 682-3384 during the registration period from the end of October to the third week in November.

I guarantee you that you will feel blessed. God loves you for this.

Paul G. Becker

Webbers Falls

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