Outreach needs your help to spread joy at the holidays

Pumpkins, mums and spooky decorations signal more than the coming of Halloween. For the Stockbridge Community Outreach, it’s time to begin planning for the holidays and gearing up for the organization’s busiest time of the year.

This holiday season in 2020 promises to be busier than ever, with many new families in need of assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following are some dates and information for those on the application or donor side of this popular program.

How to apply

The Adopt-a-Family/Holiday Food Basket Program has been running successfully at Outreach for many years. Enrollment in the program runs from Nov. 2 to Nov. 30. It is completed in person, by appointment, by calling the office at 517-851-7285. Applicants will be asked for proof of residency and income, and upon verification, a wish list for each member of the family will be taken.

A completed application enrolls a family in both the Thanksgiving and Christmas Programs, although it is their choice. Some choose not to receive a Thanksgiving basket if they are not preparing dinner at home, and others choose not to fill out a wish list and to receive food only. A normal caseload of holiday applications is about 100. That’s 100 Thanksgiving food baskets, 100 Christmas food baskets and 100 families’ wish lists to fill!

How to donate

Outreach receives many, many questions about what is needed during the holidays. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT EVERY FAMILY BE ADOPTED! Families range in size from a single person to as many as 12. Donors can choose the size of family they are comfortable with, given their budget. A good rule of thumb is about $100 per adopted family member, but each donor must decide that for themselves, and some wish lists are only one or two items.

The most popular adoption request is for a family with young children. But often, the most grateful family is one of adults who haven’t had a Christmas, or even new things in years. They come in, with tears in their eyes, to thank us for the new coat or pair of shoes they received, and are proudly wearing.

Another request we often hear is that donors wish to serve “the neediest” family. Anyone contributing to this program should know that all applicants have been screened for residency and income. Any individual or family you adopt is a member of your community in need.

Shopping may present a challenge this year for those who are trying to stay home. Online shopping, asking someone to help out, or giving a cash donation in lieu of adoption are all solutions to this.

Donating food

Food also is needed for holiday baskets. All baskets are assembled at Outreach, so each family receives an identical variety of food. If you wish to help with this, the needed holiday foods are yams, cranberry sauce, potato flakes, gravy, turkeys, hams, canned fruit, canned pumpkin and jello. Please let Outreach know if you are doing a food drive (or any other kind of drive) so we can expect your donation! If you plan to donate for Thanksgiving, the deadline is Nov. 20. For Christmas, the deadline is Dec. 16.

This community truly cares for their neighbors. Outreach thanks the many organizations and individuals who have supported the holiday program in the past. Last year 100% of the families were adopted by the community. Outreach has always made sure that every family who applies receives gifts, but this was the first year that everyone was adopted by the community. We know that with your help, Outreach can meet this goal again in 2020. Please direct your questions and comments to Karen Smith at 517-851-7285.

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