Tree of Love program kicks off Nov. 17

Individuals and groups can “adopt” a child from the Tree of Love and buy a gift. The program kicks off Nov. 17 at the Gallery at South DeKalb.

This Christmas, 1,000 disadvantaged DeKalb County children will get  holiday gifts ­– but only if the community steps up and helps Commissioner Larry Johnson make it happen.

Johnson, who is kicking off his 20th annual Tree of Love on Nov. 17, is aiming to serve the largest number of children this year.

The event serves children in foster care, single-parent and low-income households.

Johnson, who represents District 3 on the DeKalb Board of Commissioners, says it's been his mission for two decades to ensure that children in his district are not left out.

“I want to be able to ensure that children can wake up surrounded with family, love and gifts,” said Johnson, who launched the Tree of Love in 1999. “This is my way of helping contribute to that moment.”

Each year individuals and community, religious, fraternal and civic organizations select names of kids and their wish lists from the Tree of Love Christmas Tree in the Gallery at South DeKalb, purchase the gifts, and wrap and return them to the mall during the Tree of Love Closing Ceremony, set this year for Dec. 15.

Names of children are available now and donors don’t have to wait for Nov. 17 to participate.

To pick a name now, call LaShun Atwater at 404-371-2425.

The Nov. 17 kickoff takes place noon to 2 p.m. in the center court of the Gallery at South DeKalb in Decatur.

Donors who miss the kickoff can select kids' names at “Share the Love Day,” noon to 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Walmart Supercenter, 3580 Memorial Drive in  Decatur.

The Tree of Love Closing Ceremony takes place noon to 3 p.m. on Dec. 15 at the Gallery at South DeKalb, 2801 Candler Road in  Decatur.

Since its inception in 1999, the Tree of Love campaign has raised more than $750,000 in toys, and provided gifts to more than 10,000 children.

Individuals and groups wanting to showcase their talents at the Tree of Love kickoff and closing ceremony can call 404-371-2425 or email latwaters@dekalbcountyga.gov.