DHSS’ holiday adopt-a-family seeks donors

STATEWIDE — As the holiday shopping season begins, Delawareans can provide a happy holiday to thousands of Delaware children, adults, people with disabilities and seniors in need by donating through the Department of Health and Social Services’ Holiday Adopt-A-Family program.

Each holiday season, donors are anonymously matched through DHSS’ Holiday Adopt-A-Family to a senior, individual with a disability or a family with one or more children. Adopt-A-Family provides the donor with the age and gender of each child in the family and a brief description of the circumstances that led to their need for assistance. The donor then provides gift cards or gift certificates for the head- of-household to use in buying holiday gifts. The recommended gift is $125 per child, with a gift certificate for the parent optional but thoughtful.

Those interested in adopting a senior or a person with a disability will be matched to an individual in need who is living in a nursing home or living alone receiving in-home care services. A wish list of things that the individual enjoys, needs, or would appreciate, as well as clothing preferences and sizes, will be provided. After shopping for the residents, items can be dropped off at the appropriate Adopt-A-Family offices in New Castle County (3301 Green St., Claymont) or Kent and Sussex counties (13 SW Front St., Milford).

“As Delawareans begin their holiday shopping, I encourage them to keep in mind the most vulnerable members of our communities,” Gov. Jack Markell said. “A simple act of kindness can mean the world to children and their families or seniors. By donating through Adopt-A-Family this holiday season, you will have a powerful impact on our neighbors in need.”

One option for donors is to buy gift cards or shop for items in your favorite stores or your favorite online shopping sites. You can either have the items mailed to Adopt-A-Family or drop them off yourself (addresses of offices below). Please include the family code with the gift cards or items so Adopt-A-Family employees know who should receive the items. Otherwise, Adopt-A-Family staff will distribute the items to the individuals or families most in need first.

A sampling of Delawareans in need:

  • Single father of six, a war veteran, is struggling from the negative impact of the exwife’s struggle with substance abuse and the impact it has had on the entire family. Dad suffers from PTSD, but is managing his health issues while providing a healthy home life for the children. His goal is to keep his family together and care for his children the best he can on a very limited income. Although he has informed his children that he would not be able to purchase gifts this year, adopting this family and sharing some holiday cheer would surely be a blessing during a very difficult time.
  • Mother and child have had several moves within the past year, two of which were due to a death in the family with whom they were residing. This was traumatic for them, but they have proven to be resilient. The father was incarcerated out of state. The mother and child are currently residing with family and in process of moving into their own home. She lives on a fixed income.
  • Single mother is a veteran who served through three deployments. She recently lost her job, which caused her to fall behind on her rent and become homeless. She and her young daughter have no family support, but are receiving support services through a veteran’s assistance program, which has helped them to find permanent housing.

“Each holiday season, Delawareans show amazing generosity supporting children, families, people with disabilities and our seniors in need,” said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the Adopt-A-Family program. “We appreciate the way that families, workplaces, places of worship, schools and organizations come together to adopt a family or a senior in need. To me, Adopt-A-Family is about building that human connection – one person or one family to another. That’s how we are building a stronger, better and healthier Delaware.”

The deadline to “adopt” a family is Dec. 9, and all gift cards and gifts must be delivered to the Adopt-A-Family office by Dec. 9. Families who are adopted are able to pick up their gift cards from their respective Adopt-A-Family office.

In 2015, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped 2,099 Delawareans. Most of the beneficiaries are single-parent households, children, adults with a disability, and senior citizens. Eligible recipients are referred to Adopt-A-Family by a social worker or case manager through state agencies and human service nonprofit organizations.

Year-round, the Adopt-A-Family program aids families in crisis – those struggling with illness, homelessness, domestic violence, poverty or unemployment. The program, begun in 1973, is coordinated by the Division of State Service Centers in all three counties.

“While the economy continues to improve, the need for the Holiday Adopt-A-Family remains far-reaching,” said Renée P. Beaman, director of DHSS’ Division of State Service Centers, which operates the program. “So many families and individuals in need are referred to Adopt-A-Family because of serious medical conditions, behavioral health challenges, domestic violence, homelessness and unemployment. The personal stories of need truly will touch your heart, and we hope, will move you to respond generously. We are grateful for the support that Adopt-A-Family receives from donors year-round and, with your support, we will reach even more Delawareans in need this holiday season.”

To “adopt” an individual or family, please contact:

New Castle County: New Castle County Adopt-A-Family at 302-792-6150 or email lisa.mb. johnson@state.de.us. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Mail or drop off donations to this address: Adopt-A-Family, 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703.

Kent and Sussex counties: Kent and Sussex Adopt-A-Family at 302-424-7260 or email shannon. smith@state.de.us. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mail or drop off donations to this address: Adopt-A-Family, 13 SW Front St., Milford, DE 19963.

For more information about Adopt-A-Family, go to http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dssc/adoptfam. html or contact your nearest state service center.

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