Time to help a needy household at Christmas

Several House of Compassion volunteers are working hard to ensure that Marshalltown’s needy are not left out at Christmas.

However, they have a significant challenge ahead.

Last week 306 households signed up for the “Adopt a Family” program, according to Karen Frohwein, executive director at the HoC.

“We had many single elderly sign up, as well as families of all sizes,” she said. “We had many parents request gifts only for their children and not themselves. Due to the large number of total applicants, we will not be able to serve all.”

She is speaking from experience.

Last year 350 households signed up, with 267 households or 1,067 persons receiving Christmas gifts while 83 households, or 348 persons, did not.

All persons who applied for the 2013 program are registered at the HoC and meet Iowa Department of Human Services poverty guidelines. They complete a form designating specific sizes of clothing and other items they hope to receive.

Rita Smith of Marshalltown, who helps manage the program with volunteer Carol Sprague, said Adopt a Family does not duplicate assistance given by other organizations.

“Our Adopt a Family initiative does not provide assistance to those receiving help from the Salvation Army,” she said. “They have a different set of guidelines.”

Smith and her team of HoC volunteers are the difference makers. They do much work to help a household receive gifts.

For example, they provide “adoptees” information to “adopters.”

Smith said the program would not be successful without assistance from HoC staff and volunteers Sue Garrels, Debby McMullen, Char Riveland, Sprague and others.

Smith said adopters may make cash donations and HoC volunteers will purchase and deliver gifts to the needy.

Checks should be made payable to the HoC and specified in the memo line for the Christmas Adopt a Family program.

Smith said donations or company food gifts such as hams and turkeys can also be donated.

“Many people have no access to gifts at Christmas without a program like this.” Smith said. “The realization of a child or an elderly person living alone and not having any Christmas gifts or food is motivation for thoughtful people in the community to step forward with donations.”

For more information contact the HoC, 641-752-5999.