Adopt-A-Child, Project Care sign-up Thursday

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

With Allen County just now recovering from the throes of an economic downturn, Deb Donnell anticipates a stressful holiday season for many area families.
“That’s the vibe I’m getting,” she said. “We have a lot of people struggling this year.”
Donnell is among a group of local volunteers who hope to make Christmas a little merrier for area families through the 2009 Adopt-A-Child.
Sign-up for Adopt-A-Child, and the Iola Police Department-sponsored Project Care, runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church, 801 N. Cottonwood St.
Any Allen County family that receives assistance from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, or meets other income guidelines, is eligible to receive gifts for their children under 18. Also eligible are Medicaid recipients.
During Thursday’s sign-up, recipients will list their children’s ages, clothing sizes, needs and wish lists.
“We leave it up to each person who buys the gifts to decide how much to get” for the recipients, said Cheryl Sparks, who along with Barbie Daugharthy, is helping Donnell administer Adopt-A-Child. “We encourage them to get at least one clothing and one ‘fun’ item.”
“We don’t like putting a figure on how much people should spend, either,” Donnell added. “A ballpark figure that most people spend is about $30 to $50 per child.”
Families can begin “adopting” children Nov. 11. Gifts should be taken to First Baptist Church by Dec. 10, so they can be transferred to families on Dec. 14.
The church’s business hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays.
Folks also can donate money for Adopt-A-Child through an account set up at Emprise Bank in Iola.

THURSDAY’S sign-up period is roughly 10 days earlier than last year.
“Last year kept us busy right up until the week of Christmas,” Sparks said. “Moving everything up a week should make everything easier. Parents will already have their gifts in hand 11 days before Christmas this year.”
Donnell and Sparks served as the primary organizers for last year’s Adopt-A-Child. They asked Daugharthy’s help with wrapping gifts and other tasks as the project concluded. Daugharthy agreed to help from the beginning this year.
Sparks noted that “one of our big issues from last year was evening out gifts.” She told of a case where one child received only two gifts, while his sibling received 10.
In 2008, 250 children from 115 families received assistance.
Donnell lauded the community for its help, particularly in trying economic times.
“We have classes in schools who get together, and a lot of groups of employees pool their money to adopt multiple children. Churches and civic organizations also play a significant role. Even some elementary schools have students adopt children as part of a class project,” she said.
For information about applying for Adopt-A-Child or to donate, contact Donnell at 228-1444, Daugharthy at 365-5061 or Sparks at 365-1789.

PROJECT CARE will also determine who it will assist shortly after Thursday’s sign-up.
Project Care differs from Adopt-A-Child in that organizers simply receive cash donations, then go out themselves to purchase and wrap gifts for the recipients.
Organizer Roberta Ellis figures she can assist as many as 35 youngsters.
Ellis is asking donors to contribute by Dec. 1 in order for her to do holiday shopping.
Ellis will once again host a wrapping party on Dec. 14 in order for gifts to be distributed by Dec. 17.
For more information about Project Care, contact Ellis at 365-4960.