DALLAS — For the first time, two of Dallas’ traditions have come together for the greater good.

Christmas Cheer and Adopt-a-Family have joined forces to provide gifts and food for Dallas families in need this holiday season.

“We’ll serve the whole community really well,” said Amber Kozisek, Adopt-A-Family planning and coordination committee member. “We’ll do the gifts; you do the food.”

For decades, Christmas Cheer has provided food baskets on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, Adopt-a-Family has collected gifts and food for families with children younger than 17, or those who are 18 and still in high school.

“Last year we had a shortage of food for our families,” Kozisek said. “Christmas Cheer and the Salvation Army helped us out with food. After that, the two committees said, ‘Why aren’t we playing together? Why aren’t we helping everyone as a whole?’”

Sue Lamb, coordinator at Christmas Cheer, said the collaboration has been a few years in the making.

“We met as different organizations and asked ‘How can we work together?’” she said. “We started meeting and started ironing out our plans moving forward, and it fell into place really well.”

The organizations have already been working together to get the word out about both the need and the collaboration.

“If you need food, you go here; if you need toys, you go here,” Lamb said. “It’s really cool.”

Christmas Cheer served 330 families last year. Donations come from the community, local food drives, as well as Rickreall Dairy and Grocery Outlet.

This year, Hot Rod Hair will donate a hair cut in exchange for food donations. The Boy Scouts will organize a food drive.

“I’m overwhelmed and blessed,” Lamb said.

Kozisek said that the collaboration has already brought on new donors adopting local families.

“It’s a lot easier on our donors this year because we’re not asking them to bring the food — nonperishable food and gift cards for perishable items,” she said. “We’ve talked to quite a few donors who are new this year. The cost is more significant when you’re providing gifts and a gift card and food, as well.”

Another change in Adopt-a-Family is the presentation of the gifts. In years past, donors were asked to wrap gifts before delivering them to Adopt-a-Family for distribution. This year, Kozisek said people should bring unwrapped gifts in a new laundry basket. Maybe toss in a roll of wrapping paper, too.

“It’s also opened up our volunteer pool,” Kozisek said. “People who have worked with Christmas Cheer are hearing about Adopt-a-Family and volunteer for both.”

While the deadline to sign up for Adopt-a-Family has passed, Kozisek said they are still taking signups at the Academy Building in person through Dec. 10. Likewise, people adopting families are in need.

As of Thursday, the program had 85 kids who needed to be “adopted” for Christmas.

“We still have donors rolling in,” she said. But with 135 donors to 208 families — so far — there is a shortage of donors.

Some people choose to give money instead of buying gifts, Kozisek said.

“We schedule a big shopping day,” she said. “We are looking for volunteers for that, too. We reserve Walmart. We have two checkout lanes dedicated to us, and we shop for all the families who haven’t been adopted.”

The Christmas Cheer traditional Christmas Eve event to organize and deliver food boxes will commence at 6 a.m. on Dec. 23 at Lacreole Middle School.

Lamb said the need will be greater this year, serving the additional families that sign up with Adopt-a-Family.

“Sheridan, Polk No. 1, and Dallas fire districts will help with the pack out,” Lamb said. “Sheridan federal prison staff is coming with trailers and trying to help.”

Lamb said for those who are used to donating food and gifts to Adopt-a-Family, the change is to simply donate that food to Christmas Cheer.

“It’s the hands of this community,” she said. “We’re collaborating and working toward a common goal. Now these pretty well-known forces in making sure famlies are taken care of during the holidays are collaborating. There won’t be confusion. It will be simple.”

And, Lamb added, she is certain the partnership will continue long into the future.

Need help? Want to help?

Call the Academy Building: 503-623-9664.

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