We are fast approaching crunch time at Adopt-A-Family. This is the last week that the families can apply, and when we will put a big push on to attract people to get involved and help.
For the last six years we have been able to provide for every child in every family who qualified. That means an average of 2100 children got Christmas presents because of people in the community who wanted to do something for someone less fortunate.
Are we going to make it a seventh year? My gut is telling me no. When I made that announcement at a Board meeting last week, one of the Board members piped up with, "Sandy, you say that every year, and we always do it." As the saying goes, Brenda, from your mouth to God's ear. Please let me be wrong.
Over the twenty years that I've been part of this wonderful organization, first as donor, then volunteer, then Board member and now Program Coordinator, I have been asked WHY I do what I do. My answer is usually Because I can. Memories of my own happy Christmases as a child and now as a parent and grandparent motivate me to try to bring a bit of that to children in families who are struggling. And honestly I do it for me, too, because it feels good.
I have always said that AAF serves two distinct parts of the community. The first is obvious, the kids who probably wouldn't have much of a Christmas if it weren't for our program.
The second, probably less obvious to most, is the donors and volunteers who help us make this happen. During the week this all comes together our little board of sixteen members swells to include 150+ volunteers. That doesn't count the donors who provide for these 1000 families although most of our volunteers are also donors.
So when I say we serve the donors and volunteers I mean we give them a place and an opportunity to get involved. So many people want to do more than write a check. They want hands-on participation. And our volunteers love working with us every year. It's hard work but it's also fun and fulfilling.
But the reality is, we have 150 families without donors and I'm expecting at least that many more before the deadline to apply. So that's probably close to 700 kids. And the donors have dropped off dramatically, much earlier this year than usual. A sign of the poor economy, I'm sure.
Below is a photo of the applications from families yet to be matched with donors.
Before too long we will have to look at the applications from families without donors and decide who's in and who's out. Who will get a letter that says "we are very sorry but we can't help you this year." It's the part of the process I dislike most. It's when I feel like we are playing God.
I hope Brenda's right, and that we won't have to turn anyone away.
NOTE: For another personal view of Adopt-A-Family, go here to Rhea Powers' column in The Valley Breeze. And read about one of our volunteers here.