ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Hundreds of kids across Jackson County will wake up with presents under their trees Christmas morning thanks to a program called Project Noel.
Since 2007, the First United Methodist Church has spearheaded Project Noel, which allows families across Jackson County to receive a big Christmas present and several smaller stocking stuffers for their kids.
"We had a dad that came and was in tears and said I didn't know what I was going to do for my kids for Christmas. I have to use my last paychecks to pay rent and utilities. That's what it means to the county, just helping each other,” said Mitzi Pate with Project Noel.
The people are allowed to come and shop for Christmas presents for their kids, just like they would shop in a store,” said Darlene Johnson with First United Methodist Church.
The parents will choose their items in the church’s gym, which will be full of toys bought with donations. "We spend in the neighborhood of 17 to 20 thousand, sometimes more depending on what comes in and how much money comes in. Our community has supported us tremendously,” Johnson said.
Community donations range from money and toys to smaller things like gloves and socks. The parents will be able to wrap the gifts at the church so they can take them right home and put them under the tree. The gifts will be given to at an event on December 21, which the church is still looking for volunteers to help at.
"They can help hand out toys, serve cookies, wrap presents. We have what I like to call escort elves, we have people that walk around with each parent, help them gather their gifts and carry them for them and after they’re wrapped carry them to the car. So, there’s lots of ways to help,” Pate said.
The program is available to anyone that has kids of any age from infant all the way to high school seniors. You must live in Jackson County. You have until Friday, December 6 to sign up, which you can do through DHS in Jackson County.
There will be a barbecue dinner fundraiser for Project Noel Wednesday, December 4 at the First United Methodist Church in Altus. There will be food and a silent auction, as well as a live auction with former Altus Senator Mike Schulz serving as the auctioneer. It starts at 5:00 p.m. The food is free with a donation to Project Noel.