The St. Clair Lions Club again will help make Christmas merrier this year for less fortunate children in the area through its angel tree program.

Started in the early 1990s, the program allows individuals in the community to purchase specific gifts without revealing names of the children. Purchasers also remain anonymous.

“This is a total community effort to help some children who may be less fortunate,” St. Clair Lions Club secretary and angel tree program coordinator Tony LaChance said. “The past success of this program is due to the generous St. Clair public. People have been very generous in the past, and I hope they continue to do so.”

This year, more than 100 “angels” are available at eight local businesses — Farmers & Merchants Bank, US Bank, Heartland Bank, R&R Ace Hardware, HealthMart Pharmacy, Dollar Plus, Great Clips and St. Clair Die Casting.

Interested individuals may stop at any of these businesses and pick up an angel tree card. The card does not have a name, but includes the sex, age, size and suggested gift ideas for a specific child.

Whomever takes that card purchases presents for that specific youngster using the provided information and can spend as much as he or she wants. All presents need to be wrapped and kept together with the angel card. They may be dropped off at any of the eight participating businesses before Friday, Dec. 21.

On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus and some of his elves will deliver the gifts to the children throughout the afternoon.

LaChance said people who may want to help but can’t shop may make a financial donation to the program. Checks need to be made payable to the St. Clair Lions Club Angel Tree Program and mailed to P.O. Box 304, St. Clair, MO 63077.

LaChance is in his seventh year of organizing the program. It was started by the St. Clair Lions Club in the early 1990s under the direction of Bill Juengel, who saw a similar program working in Union.

Ross Humphrey also has supervised the program over the years.

LaChance said questions may be directed to any of the eight participating businesses.