12/10/12 The motto of the Community Christmas Coalition-“Bringing Christmas Home to All Marshall County Families”-is more than just words. This year’s chair for the Coalition, Sara Hill of the Marshall County Neighborhood Center, said applications for assistance closed this weekend; however, the over 400 applications from families seeking assistance will keep volunteers busy for the next several days. This is the second year that the Christmas Coalition has coordinated many of the needs lists from agencies all over the county to help assure that no one is left out. The Coalition was formed by several local organizations and agencies in an effort to reach families or individuals experiencing difficulties and who otherwise might not receive assistance for toys/clothes for children and food during the holidays.
Menominee Elementary Principal and former Neighborhood Center Board Member, Michael Dunn, said his staff has adopted two large families since he knows first hand that it is hard to find people how can and want to do a large family. Dunn said, “MCNC meets weekly with all our counselors and social workers. From the preliminary work they have done, it looks like they might make the goal of filling all the applications.” He added, “There is a still lot of help that needs to come through to make that happen.” He said the schools are continuing to get a few last minute applications.
Among other agencies, the Coalition receives referrals from school counselors and several United Way agencies. Hill said, “We trade lists with groups all over the county to eliminate duplications.” Among others, they work closely with Shop-With-a –Cop volunteers and the Triton Christmas partnership.
Hill said, “The good news is that there are approximately 100 fewer applications than last year. The bad news is that donations are also down.”
Hill said there are several ways in which the community can help with the project. She said many people directly sponsor a family by shopping, wrapping and delivering gifts and food to a family. She said individuals or organizations who want to adopt a family can also remain anonymous by dropping off items at the Neighborhood Center on West Garro St. in Plymouth. Others may want to donate new toys or monetary gifts for the staff to distribute.
According to Hill, last year volunteers shopped for and wrapped gifts along with preparing food baskets for about 200 of the nearly 500 families.
Hill said they can keep taking donations up until December 17 or 18. They plan to begin distributions on December 18. Food baskets are being assembled on December 14 and 15.
Carol Anders Correspondent