Some needs, especially during the holiday season, are never ending and because of that fact, Washington, Warren, Issaquena, Sharkey, Yazoo Community Action Agency (WWISCAA) opened its Family Wish Tree Program on Nov. 1.
The Family Wish Tree Program has been put in place by WWISCAA to serve eligible residents of its counties by providing new toys and clothing to disadvantaged children during the holiday season.
“Back last year in October, we got word that The Salvation Army was leaving the area and we were concerned for those people who have relied upon them for their angel tree,” Jannis Williams, executive director for WWISCAA, said.
This makes the second year the agency has stepped in to play a role in making sure families are able to experience the joy of being gifted with something to make them gleam.
Williams said she and the agency did not want the clients to suffer just because The Salvation Army left.
“We just decided that this would be one of those things that we’d take under our umbrella,” she said.
The agency is welcoming the help of individuals, clubs, families, churches, sororities, fraternities, agencies and the community at large to help in the endeavor.
WWISCAA’s case management units will be taking the applications for program participants and receiving gifts until Dec. 13.
For those who are interested, they can sponsor a child’s gift request individually or participate in a group with friends or co-workers.
In addition, those who desire to, can work in teams of any size to purchase one gift or 20.
Individuals who decide to sponsor a child’s gift are to go the case management office on 1165 S. Raceway Road, across from the Washington County Convention Center, and choose a star or stars from the Family Wish Tree.
On the star, there will be information about a child, female/girl or male/boy, clothing sizes and/or toys.
After purchase, the items should be wrapped and returned back to the office for distribution to the families before Dec. 18, 2019. Each star will have its own code and must be put on each gift that is brought.
While there are times in which children wish for items that are out of reach or too expensive, Williams said that it shouldn’t stop anyone from helping.
What makes WWISCAA’s process different from some agencies, Jannis said, is the agency is able to screen the clients for income to make sure they are in need based on their income.
Case managers and case workers, partnering with participants/clients, will assess the whole family situation; and whereas a family may initially be seeking assistance from the Family Wish Tree Program, they will be assessed for other WWISCAA services.
Families who are qualified to participate in the program are required to submit an application for assistance following agency established guidelines for eligibility and all interested persons must call for an appointment.
While the availability of resources and the specifics of what is offered or available will vary by county, WWISCAA is committed to doing its best to help individuals or provide them with valid referrals.
Families must bring the following records with them to their appointments:
* A valid photo identification card for the application (U.S. Driver’s license, U.S. Passport, State Issued Non-Drivers ID);
* Social Security Cards for all household members;
* Proof of all Household income (award letters from Social Security and/or SSI, Child Support, Retirement, Unemployment, Wages check stubs — last 30 days, etc.); and
* Proof of Residence (Utility bill, lease agreements, mortgage letter).
People who want to help or assist can do so by acting as a donor, making a generous donation or being a volunteer.
Organizations or individuals interested in becoming a Family Wish Tree Donor should contact the WWISCAA Intake Office in his or her county. Making a monetary donation to the Family Wish Tree Program will allow the agency to purchase more gifts and serve more individuals. Donations should be made payable to WWISCAA, Inc. and mailed or delivered to the Administration Office at 1538 Old Leland Road, Greenville, MS 38701. As a volunteer, services need are to help sort, wrap and prepare wishes for distribution to families.
The following are the WWISCAA Intake Office locations and intake times:
* The Washington County office will take applications from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m and is located at 1165 S. Raceway Rd., Greenville, MS. Contact Natish Buck for an appointment at 662-378-8663.
* The Sharkey/Issaquena office will take applications from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m and is located at 132 Court St., Mayersville. Contact Vera Brown for an appointment at 662-873-2595.
* The Warren County office will take applications from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m and is located at 2022 Cherry St., Vicksburg. Contact Reba Causey for an appointment at 662-638-2474.
* The Yazoo County office will take applications from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1-2 p.m and is located at 516 Grand St., Yazoo. Contact Shenika Young for an appointment at 662-746-1517.
Last year, the WWSICAA was able to purchase gifts for over 200 kids.
Williams said she believes that number will increase this year because the agency has started earlier and now that the word is out, many of the same people who participated last year were asking when the program would get started.
“To me, it’s a good feeling to know that you’ve helped to make some child’s wishes come true, maybe not all of them, but that if they wanted something, they can be sure they’re gonna get it,” Williams said.