The holiday season is known for wintry weather, Wassailing and wanting to extend a helping hand.
This year, local agencies are hoping Douglas County residents feel the giving spirit because more and more families are asking for help.
The Ballard Center’s Holiday Bureau received 600 requests from families wanting to be adopted this year. That’s nearly double the applications the agency received last year. With just two weeks until Christmas, the agency still needs to find help for almost 250 families.
“It’s a huge worry,” CEO Dianne Ensminger said. “We’ve never not met the goal of serving everyone. We’ll do everything we can to find resources to meet the needs of everyone that’s applied.”
Besides adopting a family, there are other ways to help. The Tree of Stars program, in collaboration with Sunflower Broadband, is available in these Lawrence businesses: Crown Automotive, Waxman Candles, Montana Mike’s, Lawrence Athletic Center, Quiznos sub shops, Godfather’s Pizza, and Kitchen and Bath Designs. Paper stars hang on Christmas trees, each with a different gift request ranging from G.I. Joes to Hannah Montana gear. Donors can buy the items and drop them off at the Ballard Center, 708 Elm St., in North Lawrence. The items will be bundled to take care of families who aren’t adopted.
“(The families) don’t want to ask for help. They want to be the givers and not the receivers,” Ensminger said. “They don’t want to look at us in the eye because they’re ashamed of having to be here, but they don’t want their children to do without something.”
The Salvation Army in Lawrence has about 25 families left in its adoption program and it is also behind on gathering donations in the Red Kettle campaign. The goal for the campaign is $108,000. By the end of the season, the agency will help about 450 families.
“All the single moms with a couple of kids are adopted out,” Capt. Wes Dalberg said. “It’s those larger families or maybe it’s two adults with one child.”
Lawrence is going against the trend on donations. Dalberg said communities on both sides of Lawrence were ahead in collections.
“They’re up significantly, so I don’t know what’s happening here in Lawrence exactly,” Dalberg said. “We hope that, in the end, we’re up significantly as well.”
To adopt a family from the Ballard Center, call the agency, 842-0729. To adopt a Salvation Army family, call Susan, 843-4188.