Wednesday, December 26, 2012
DALLAS -- Two Dallas-area holiday assistance programs saw more families than ever seeking help this year.
Some 222 families in Dallas applied for the Adopt-a-Family program, which provides a holiday meal and gifts to families in need.
"We had a record amount of families, sadly, but we also had a record amount of volunteers," said Melissa Baurer, project coordinator of the Polk County Resource Center. "All the families ended up being adopted."
Dallas Christmas Cheer had 260 applications as of Friday, and was hoping to fill 20 more by its Christmas Eve distribution day, said Sue Lamb, Christmas Cheer's treasurer.
Donations were also on the rise for the program that delivers food boxes to families in need on Christmas Eve.
Collections weren't quite complete by Friday, but Lamb was feeling confident the supply would meet the demand.
"We are seeing the community step up in amazing ways," she said.
This year, many families were seeking assistance for the first time, Baurer said.
"A lot of families said their unemployment is running out and they haven't found a job yet," Baurer said. "They are running out of resources. When unemployment ends, they can apply for cash assistance through DHS (Department of Human Services), but that isn't going to pay all their bills, let alone provide for a Christmas for their families."
Others seeking assistance are veterans who had their disability benefits stalled.
Thankfully for Adopt-a-Family, the increased need was met with more people willing to help.
"One of the major reasons we were able to serve more families is because of new donors," Baurer said.
She noted that the Salvation Army provided an unexpected donation of toys to give to children in Polk County, a portion of which were distributed through Christmas Cheer's deliveries.
Lamb said donations have been pouring in for Christmas Cheer, thanks to more area businesses and agencies deciding to pitch in.
The Dallas Fire Department raised $2,000 during its annual mustache auction and other projects. And the Polk County Sheriff's Office sponsored a competition between the patrol and jail divisions to collect the most food.
Lamb said more local businesses have promoted Christmas Cheer food drives this year than ever.
"We are seeing new partners come up with creative ways to help us out," Lamb said.