With exactly two weeks remaining until Christmas, the Christmas for Kids program seeks sponsors to make sure 52 local children have gifts under the tree.

The annual program provides gifts for children of incarcerated parents. It relies on volunteers to sponsor children or at least donate toward the cause.

Program founder Debbie Dixon said there are sponsors for the remainder of the more than 1,500 northwest Alabama children in the program but they are racing against the calendar for the remaining 52.

"It's going to be interesting," Dixon said Tuesday, with a hint of worry in her voice. "The Shoals has always come through but 52 is still a large number."

Anyone interested in being a sponsor may call Dixon at 256-443-1297.

The gifts are from a list provided by the parents, which allows the parents to be a part of their child's Christmas.

Sponsors either can donate to the program, buy gifts for the children and drop them off at designated locations or buy the gifts and deliver them in person.

Those locations include Midgard Self Storage locations at 2708 W. Mall Drive, Florence, and 414 Cox Blvd., Sheffield; Champy's Famous Fried Chicken, 120 W.E. Second St., Muscle Shoals; Momma Jean's Restaurant, 2325 Alabama 20, Tuscumbia; and Options Wellness Center, 1005 Avalon Ave., Muscle Shoals.

Dixon said she is happy with any of those options but added the personal delivery proves to be a gift for the sponsor, as well.

"I do encourage them to shop and drop off the gifts so they can see the looks in the eyes of the kids," she said. "You'll see that gratitude and it's very touching."

One request Dixon has is to avoid gift cards, because she wants to be certain all gifts go to the kids.

Dixon pointed out the children did nothing to be put in their situation, and many who were recipients as children become sponsors as adults.

"I'll see them out and about and they'll come up and hug me and tear up and tell me what the program meant to them," she said. "They're as sweet as the day is long."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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