In Delaware, the Human Services Council, Inc., in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services, is seeking individuals, businesses and organizations to help provide holiday gifts for thousands of the state’s children and seniors living in poverty or in low-income households.
Each holiday season, donors are anonymously matched to a senior or family of one or more children through the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program. Adopt-A-Family provides the donor with the age and gender of each child in the family and a brief description of the circumstances that led to their need for assistance. The donor then provides gift cards or certificates for the head-of-household to use in buying holiday gifts. The recommended gift is $100 to $125 per child, with a gift certificate for the parent optional but thoughtful.
Adopt-A-Family is a Delaware tradition of neighbors helping neighbors,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “I offer my profound gratitude to those who provide a holiday to children, families and seniors who would otherwise go without one. Adopt-A-Family showcases the best of our community and the best of the holiday spirit.”
“Across the state, we know the generous spirit of Delawareans,” said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services. “During these challenging economic times, please consider donating a gift card or gift certificate to help children, families or seniors experience a happier holiday season. It will be a gift that continues to give for everyone.”
“The beauty of this program is that it is built on the ethic of reciprocity,” said Dr. Anne Farley, director of the Division of State Service Centers, which oversees the Adopt-A-Family program. “Adopt-A-Family pairs individuals who are facing difficult times with someone else in the community who is able to share and willing to give. The program cultivates the ethic of giving back and of sharing, which at its core is the strength of us as a people and as a community.”
In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 16 percent of Delawareans lived below the poverty line. In January 2012, more than 152,000 Delawareans qualified for food stamps and more than 210,000 people are on Medicaid. Delaware’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in September.
“As the economy continues to recover, we find the need is still great for our Holiday Adopt-A-Family program,” Farley said. “That’s why we rely on the generosity of individuals, businesses and organizations to volunteer or to donate by adopting a family or an elderly person.”
To “adopt” an individual or family in:
The deadline to “adopt” a family is Dec. 10, and all gift cards and gifts must be delivered to the Adopt-A-Family Office by Dec. 17. Families who are adopted come to each location to receive their gifts.
In 2011, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped 1,980 Delawareans. Most of the beneficiaries are single-parent households, children and senior citizens. They are referred to Adopt-A-Family by a social worker or case manager through state agencies and human service nonprofit organizations.
Year-round, the Adopt-A-Family program aids families in crisis — those struggling with illness, homelessness, domestic violence, poverty or unemployment. The program, begun in 1973, is coordinated by the Division of State Service Centers in all three counties.
Beyond the Holiday Adopt-A-Family, other programs offered include:
(New Castle County only)
Monetary assistance may be provided to families in special emergency situations to provide for such essentials as shelter and utilities.
Household & Hygiene Items
(Kent/Sussex counties only)
Products used daily to operate a household are provided to help families maintain a stable home environment and/or re-establish a functioning household after a crisis.
Products such as diapers, clothing, and other personal baby care items are provided to support care for children up to 24 months.
(New Castle County only)
The Clothing Closet makes donated and used clothing, shoes, and accessories available free to families in need. The closet operates Wednesdays from January through June, and September through December from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Hanover Presbyterian Church, 18th and Baynard Boulevard in Wilmington.
School supplies and gift cards for uniforms are provided to school children. The goal of this program is to encourage a positive attitude toward school.
For these programs, Adopt-A-Family accepts financial and in-kind donations. Checks can be made payable to: Adopt-A-Family, and for New Castle County, mailed to 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703; or for Kent and Sussex counties, mailed to Adopt-A-Family, 13 SW Front St., Milford, DE 19963.
For more information about Adopt-A-Family, go to dhss.delaware.gov or contact your nearest state service center.
For reporters who need more information about Adopt-A-Family, contact Catherine Fox, Marketing and Media Coordinator, at the State Office of Volunteerism, at (302) 255-9745.