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Trees of Joy bring holiday spirit to those in need

It's that time of year again. With Thanksgiving fading into a dim memory, the Christmas rush looms large on the horizon. While out collecting choice gifts for family members, now is a good time to think about helping the needy.
   Prineville's traditional Trees of Joy are already set up and decked out with name tags describing children and seniors in need.
   Once again this year the Tree of Joy, tagged with about 200 names of local children, is located at Community First Bank.
   The Tree of Joy tagged for senior and disabled folks is located conveniently at Rite Aid in the Ochoco Plaza.
   Program Manager, Terrie Jahn indicated that although applications are still coming in, this year there are fewer folks taking part in the program.
   Last year's children's tree held more than 700 names, an extraordinarily large number for Prineville under any circumstances. But this year the anticipated participation is well below that figure.
   "At this point we don't have as many children's names as we did last year, but we've had a lot more senior and disabled names this year. The deadline for participation is this Friday and we may see quite a few more come in before then. However, I project that we will probably end up with about 325 names of children, and around 150 seniors," Jahn said.
   There is already an indication that one item requested most is new coats for children aged infant to high school. In addition, with the winter temperatures dipping well past the freezing point, blankets are another `hot' commodity.
   A simultaneous collection of non-perishable foods is also underway under Jahn's direction. Community groups and organizations are massing individual efforts to collect items in a variety of ways including door-to-door and with static collection sites.
   The non-perishable food and staples collected will be organized for distribution at Carey Foster Hall on Dec. 13 beginning at 9 a.m.
   Anyone interested in participating in the food drive is invited to bring their collections to that site by 9:30 a.m., so that volunteers have plenty of time to arrange and redistribute the inventory to local organizations providing holiday food baskets to the needy.
   For anyone who would like to participate, but can't think of what to purchase, Jahn indicated that another popular item that there simply can't be too many of is new teddy bears for children.
   Gifts for either of the holiday trees can be dropped off now until the third week of December at the Trees of Joy. Items will be distributed by community organizations and volunteers to their designated recipients in time for Christmas.
   For more information call Jahn at 416-0585.