The giving started Tuesday at Care House, where a long line formed before 8 a.m. as people waited to receive Christmas food baskets, an annual ministry of the nonprofit group. Care House director Earl Lewis said they distributed 10,000 to 12,000 pounds of food to 455 families. Each family received a turkey or ham, along with staples like canned vegetables, cornbread mix and snack cakes.
“We had a huge crowd,” Lewis said. “It was quite a spectacle. It took a lot of work and a lot of volunteers to bring it all together.”
Tuesday afternoon, the Rotary Club performed its annual Christmas project with the help of SAFE Family Services Center and Walmart. Club members adopted 10 families through SAFE’s “Gift Giving from the Heart” campaign. Each family had two or three children varying from infant to 12 years old. Rotarians shopped for clothes, toys and other items for the children and also donated a buggy of food to each family. Included was enough food for a Christmas dinner, and other food to last the average family about a week, as well as some household cleaning supplies.
After shopping, Rotarians personally delivered gifts to their sponsored families.
“That’s the best part of the whole thing,” said Walmart manager and Rotarian Keith Mock. “I spent two hours with a family that we delivered to last year. It’s a great experience.”
Rotary president Steve Marlowe said Rotary prefers to make its own deliveries “to make a personal connection and follow through with our commitment.” The funds the club puts toward this project are raised through yearly fundraisers and member donations.
“Our members go way above and beyond with this project,” Marlowe said.
Another group that goes above and beyond is SAFE, through its aforementioned “Gift Giving from the Heart” campaign, now in its 10th year. The organization will distribute bags of Christmas presents to about 65 families Wednesday. With the help of more than 30 community partners, SAFE collected donations to make the distribution possible.
“We added several community partners this year. We are thankful for their support and excited to help these families at this special time of year,” said SAFE special services coordinator Lecia Whiteside.
Parents or guardians applying to SAFE’s program provided a list of wants and needs for each child, and SAFE fulfills as much of the list as possible, plus some extra gifts for parents when supplies allow.
The Kiwanis Club is also adopting five families for its Christmas basket program, according to Lewis, a Kiwanis member, and it sponsoring 10 children as part of the Boy’s Club Christmas program to provide for boys that attend the club.
Another group making a difference in the lives of 100 Sylacauga children, and 700 children across Talladega and Calhoun counties, is Toys for Tots. The nonprofit organized by the U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Reserves started a new chapter to serve these two counties this year, and it is seeing success, according to coordinator Dave Grise.
“Giving has been down 20 percent across the country compared to last year, and it has been really slow for us until the last five days,” he said Monday. “Now it seems like people are getting in the mood to give, and it’s a good thing to see.”
Thanks to the donations from these and other groups, more than 1,000 children in the area will likely have a merrier Christmas.
Contact Emily McLain at firstname.lastname@example.org.