The Christmas tree in the front window of Hope’s Closet is covered in paper gingerbread cutouts, and while they might help some get into the holiday spirit, each decoration represents a child in need.

The Women’s Center of East Texas is holding its first Adopt a Child fundraiser, which allows people to “adopt” the children of domestic violence survivors and buy them Christmas presents.

Youth Program Director Sheri Wayt said the effort started with about 100 children. The cutouts that hang on the tree at the Wall Street location of Hope’s Closet in Longview each have the gender and age of a child. The youngest ones will be born sometime this month, while the oldest is 17.

Hope’s Closet is a resale store that benefits the Women’s Center.

Anyone can go to the store and pick as many children as they want to adopt and then receive those children’s wish lists.

Wayt said each list asks the child to write something he or she needs, wants, something to wear and something to read.

“A lot of the needs kind of break your heart, like I need a coat, I need tennis shoes, I need warm shoes for winter, need some socks, need underwear. These are things these kids are going to get in addition to the wants like a bicycle or a baby doll,” she said. “They’re asking for the same things our kids want.”

The center used to host a Christmas party with snacks and crafts for children, Wayt said. While the children were at the party, mothers were able to shop from donated items to give the children.

However, the center decided it was not safe to do the same party this year because of COVID-19 concerns, so a new tradition was started with Adopt a Child.

Wayt said the gifts need to be dropped off at the center, at 1011 Wal St. Suite 101, by Dec. 14. She said the donations should be unwrapped, and children can be adopted up to Dec. 11.

“We’re going to give a roll of wrapping paper to the mom for each child,” she said. “And then she can wrap the kid’s presents to where she can take part in some of the fun and the joy of giving the gifts.”

People also can visit the center’s Amazon wish list to purchase a toy to be shipped to the center. Anyone also can make a monetary donation or a gift card donation.

“Anybody who has a heart and wants to help some children at this time of year can come,” Wayt said.

Kristen is the News-Journal's education reporter. A Longview native, she got a journalism degree and a graduate certificate at Texas Tech University. She covers a variety of issues, including school finance, board meetings and happenings at local schools.