By CHERIL VERNON
Our veterans are the reason that we enjoy the freedoms that we have today. However, some veterans in our own community will celebrate Christmas without even so much as one gift.
To help spread holiday cheer and to help those who have served our country, the Palestine Public Library is partnering with local veteran groups to make sure area veterans are remembered this Christmas.
The Palestine Public Library, with the help of the Palestine Veterans Administration Clinic and the Anderson County Veterans Service Center, will host an angel tree to benefit area veterans who are in need as well as children of veterans.
Angels range in age from 2 to 92 and are in need of various items, from toys to clothes and books. Angels can be picked up at the library during regular library hours and should be returned to the library by 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. Gifts should be wrapped and labeled with the angel's number.
"With the reason for the season it's only fitting to remember the Christ-like atmosphere of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Reach in and help our community, especially disadvantaged kids, soldiers and our elderly in the nursing homes,” Anderson County Veterans Service Officer Vernon Denmon said. “Please help us honor our local veterans, who risked their lives for our country and our freedom, this Christmas season and sponsor an angel.
“It's the joy of seeing their faces light up to think that someone cared enough to think of them during the holidays.”
Denmon said as a veteran himself, he remembers how much joy it brought him to receive a care package while serving out-of-the country.
“It didn't even matter what was in the package, it just mattered that there was a package,” Denmon recalled. “It's just nice to be thought of or remembered.”
Palestine VA Clinic Nurse Manager Patty Beckendorf said when they asked some of the veterans what they would like for Christmas, it was usually something simple.
“It was socks or sweatpants — not huge gifts that no one could afford,” Beckendorf said. “In many cases, they are just lonely.”
When picking out an angel at the library, the person can ask to see what that particular veteran, for example, is in need of the most, whether it be clothes or some other special request.
“For our employees at the VA Clinic, this has been a great team-building exercise,” Beckendorf said. “We are really happy to be taking part in this for the veterans.”
Librarian Rachel Menjivar said library patrons have been taking the angels' names since reading the library column that mentioned in the Herald-Press on Wednesday, but there are still plenty left on the tree.
“One lady found out the tree was for veterans and took five names instead of one. One elderly couple said they don't buy Christmas presents for each other, so they took two families,” Menjivar said. “Lot of big-hearted patrons.”