Ballard Community Services708 Elm St.842-0729
Penn House1035 Pa.842-0440
Douglas County Senior Services745 Vt.842-0543
ECKAN2518 Ridge Court841-3357
Salvation Army946 N.H.843-4188
Single parent Ronda Wisdom and her two sons are looking forward to Christmas. She’s hoping the boys will have gifts to open that morning, but knows that there is a possibility that there won’t be any under the Christmas tree.
“Christmases can be kind of tricky because we do have a limited income,” said Wisdom, a Lawrence resident.
The Wisdoms are waiting to find out whether they were adopted through the Holiday Bureau’s Adopt-A-Family Program. They’ve been adopted for the last seven or eight holiday seasons, Wisdom said.
The Holiday Bureau consists of five Lawrence social service agencies that use the same application process: Salvation Army, Douglas County Senior Services, Ballard Community Center, Penn House and East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corporation, also known as ECKAN.
Some of the Holiday Bureau agencies and Haskell Indian Nations University’s Adopt a Haskell Rascal program are still looking for donors to adopt families.
ECKAN’s Douglas County coordinator, Jeanette Collier, said she has seen a drop in the number of donors this year.
“We had sent out 42 donor letters to regular donors and only seven of them have responded at this time,” Collier said Wednesday afternoon.
She’s worried because she still has 20 families that need to be matched with donors through ECKAN and gifts are supposed to be given to families in about a week.
“It concerns me because we’ve always had every family adopted over the last five years,” Collier said.
More demand than supply
ECKAN has between 20 and 25 families waiting to be adopted. Collier also has a waiting list of 150 families whose applications she couldn’t accept because not enough donors had signed up. Donors are usually local businesses, churches and private donors. The Holiday Bureau asks donors to supply adopted families with a holiday meal, clothing, and at least one item from the wish list for each household member. Donors and adopted families never meet and identities are kept confidential.
Both Collier and Wisdom believe that dealing with recent economic hardship has caused some regular donors to not adopt a family this holiday season.
“Things have really been rough on everyone, so I imagine it’s going to severely affect the programs that are seeking help from the community,” Wisdom said.
If ECKAN cannot match all of the families with donors, Collier would have to contact the applicants and let them know that they will not receive assistance. To not have all families matched would be “very disturbing” to her.
“I am aware that these are families who are significantly in need,” she said. “Many of my households have requested nothing more than extra food or extra clothing. We know that parents get very stressed out at this point in time when they can’t give to their children, so the Holiday Bureau is really a means for all families to be able to participate in our community.”
For the children
Wisdom applied for the program through Ballard Community Services and wishes she didn’t have to seek help.
“It’s kind of hard to have to do, but when you have no choice and your kids are still young enough where they’re going to be crushed come Christmas morning if there’s nothing there, it’s kind of just something that has to be done,” she said.
Her sons each put two toys on their family’s wish list, but what Wisdon really wants is gift cards. She calls them the “gift of peace of mind.”
“They can go toward anything,” she said. “It can go from paper goods to food to just really anything.”
Collier hopes that the spirit of Christmas will inspire people to step up and help others.
“My experience with the Lawrence community is that people are very generous,” she said. “Once they are aware of the need, once they know where they can donate and what is involved, they also come forward and they help us out.”