Monday, December 6, 2010

Making a Difference for a Local Family this Holiday Season

Today I dropped off my gifts and gift cards for the family we adopted through the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s Adopt-a-Family Program. I first wrote about the Adopt-a-Family Program here.

This family of four (a mom, two college-age kids and a 14-year-old boy) requested a lumbar support cushion to alleviate chronic pack pain, gas gift cards for getting back and forth to school, a gift card for a haircut (for the 14-year-old boy) and black socks the 14-year-old can wear during performances of his school’s marching band. These things—especially the lumbar support cushion and black socks—are needs this family couldn’t afford to fulfill on their own, and it still affects me the way it did when I wrote my last post on the subject. I really feel for this family, and hope the things I bought brighten their holiday and fuel their efforts to become fully self-sufficient.

Adults and kids 15 and older in the program are only allowed to ask for “needs” to be met, but children 14 and under are allowed to ask for “wants,” too. So the 14-year-old boy also gets a gift card for Game Stop, his favorite store.

But unlike the past three years I participated in this program, this time I plan to keep up my charitable donations and actions throughout the next year. After my holiday knitting is complete, I plan on knitting a blanket for a sick child in the hospital through Project Linus. And when I clean out my closet this winter, I know my donations to the Salvation Army thrift store will help other local families. I’ve always wanted to donate to food pantries, since food is the most basic need of all, but never did. I think I will in 2011, as times get tougher for families who are out of work and scraping to get by.

I used to make donations to the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation, but who am I kidding – are animals more important than people? Plus, the NWF “got” me with a sappy e-newsletter about the bison at Yellowstone National Park that turned out to be full of lies. What a waste of $50. I won’t make that mistake again.

I want Nathan to grow up learning about helping others, and plan to find opportunities for us to donate our time and effort for a worthy cause as he gets older. Writing a $50 check to the United Way or Red Cross is great, but with all the administrative costs of such big organizations… how do I know if my money is actually going to help a person? Is it lining the pockets of the executive director, CEO or CFO? I want to help people, and not necessarily help organizations that help people. That’s why I like the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s Adopt-a-Family program.

My family is making a difference for one local family this holiday season. I hope we’re able to make a difference for a few more families over the course of 2011.

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