Megan Jernigen holds up a phone with her sister, Ashley, on FaceTime as she and her mom, Lori, look at cards indicating children’s needs for the holidays.

The family members said they try to help people in need every holiday season and recently picked several cards from the Angel Tree at the McAlester News-Capital office at 500 S. Second St. in McAlester.

“Mom always bought what she could when we were little so we just want to help everybody and try to give them the best Christmas that we can,” Megan said.

The family members reminisced about their previous holidays. Lori said her children would often get money for Christmas only to put it back toward someone in need.

“They would say ‘I just want my money to go for angel,’” Lori said. “Then we’d pick an angel out and spend the money.”

Now, they continue the tradition and try to teach Ashley’s young children about what they called Christmas magic.

The McAlester News-Capital and the McAlester Lions’ Club partnered last year to start an Angel Tree project to provide clothes and a toy for children in need during the holiday season.

Community members picked nearly 150 angels from the tree on the first day it was open last year and ultimately helped 278 children in need in and around Pittsburg County.

The Jernigens said they missed out last year — although they still found people to help after searching for similar events in the area and the Oklahoma City area.

The family said they wanted to make sure they were able to help with the local angel tree this year.

“We just want to be able to give back a little,” Lori said.

The Jernigens said their criteria for selecting an angel ranged from a favorite number to different ages and more.

Angels on a tree at the News-Capital to represent a child in and around Pittsburg County needing some help over the holidays. Each child receives at least an outfit, shoes, toys, jacket, and gloves — along with one small toy.

Deadline to nominate a child as an angel came in November. Children qualified if they came from a family in the area experiencing financial crisis.

Anyone can select an angel from the tree and return gifts unwrapped to the News-Capital office by Dec. 10.

Every angel on the tree is numbered, so anyone purchasing gifts for an angel must number the gifts.

Sponsors for angels can contact the News-Capital office now so we can take your name and number to send you an angel after all nominations have been received.

Anyone who would rather make a donation or volunteer to shop for angels can also contact the News-Capital. Checks need to be made to the McAlester News-Capital Angel Tree.

Donations of new unwrapped toys, hygiene items, wrapping paper and holiday gift sacks will also be accepted.

Volunteers and staff will help package and deliver everything to designated areas for the angels.

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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