Needy Families Still Waiting To Be Adopted For Christmas

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (Dec. 20, 2007)—For the past several years the county’s Division of Community Services has partnered with local organizations and businesses to adopt needy families for clothes and presents for Christmas.

Most of the families who have taken part in the program, after being vetted by the Department of Social Services, have gotten the assistance they need.

But this year about 200 families here have not been adopted by any family, business or community organization out of 640 families on the list.

It’s the largest number that may have to go without for the holiday season, according to Cynthia Brown, community services manager.

“We’re very much in need of more donations,” Brown told The County Times. “We’ll be taking donations right up to the end; as long as we’re here we’ll continue.”

Brown said that last year only 30 families out of 546 that participated in the program went without donated presents or clothes.

“There’s just fewer donations,” said Elaine Kauffman, the Christmas Caring coordinator, who added that people looking for help keep applying. “We’re still getting people calling and asking if it’s too late.”

The deadline for donations of Christmas gifts and clothes for all ages, from children to adults, is Dec. 21.

Donations will still be accepted on that day, Brown said.

All of the families accepted into the program currently receive food stamps or cash assistance. The pressures in some families are great, Kauffman said, and that drives the need for Christmas season help.

“We have a lot of large families,” Kauffman said. “I have one family with 10 children.”

Still, staff and volunteers with the Division of Community Services are looking on the bright side.

About 400 of the 600 families on the list have been adopted and provided for this Christmas season, and the donations have been coming in from businesses, community philanthropic organizations and even private families.

Kauffmann said some families have even opted to help other families this Christmas instead of buying gifts for themselves.

One person who got assistance from the Christmas Caring program in a previous year and has now gotten back on their feet has even asked to help a family in need.

“Those are the ones that bring tears to our eyes,” Brown said.

Some families are even willing to forgo presents this year just to make sure they can get the basic necessities, Brown said.

“We get applications that say ‘Please, just coats and socks, things like that we need those more than toys,’” Brown said.

Donations for teenagers, who often like electronics or higher-end items, are often the hardest to collect, Brown said, but those who want to give for teenagers can still submit gift cards.

For more information on where to give and what to give call the Division of Community Services at 301-475-4200 ext. 1851 from 8 a.m. to 5p.m.

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