First, let me thank you for all of the presents you sent me last year. Family Service Center is a great place to work, and our wonderful staff, board, donors and volunteers support the work that we do. I couldn’t have a better team of people to work with.
Our Compass after-school program for homeless and low-income elementary students is going very well, and we are seeing the difference that we make in their lives every week. Our foster care program is growing, too, and we have some of the most dedicated and hard-working caseworkers out there.
When I think about what I want this Christmas, I have decided I need to ask for something for our Tree of Wishes. Now in its 33rd year, we have a huge number of people we are trying to find presents for this Christmas. Fourteen agencies are participating, and a total of 969 people are on the tree.
We have volunteers from all over the community to man the site at the mall, but we still need people to come and pick up cards for all of those who have signed up for help. These are the type of people I need you to send our way:
* Families who want to teach their children about the meaning of giving to others this holiday season,
* Couples who want to want a creative date night — they can buy presents together for a child in need,
* People who can recommend some good, large-print books for our nursing home residents on the Tree of Wishes this year. Or, who can find warm slippers, robes and pipe tobacco,
* People who are sensitive to the needs of adults with developmental disabilities and can find fun presents off of their lists,
* People who want to help foster parents provide a good Christmas for the children in their homes and
* Anyone who wants to give joy and happiness to others this year.
Santa, if you know of people who want to help, let them know to go to the lower level of White Oaks Mall near Sears to pick out a card. They can choose male or female and what age they would like to buy for. We have a lot of children on the list (all of whom have promised that they have been very good this year) as well as some adults who live in a supportive environment who do not have anyone buying presents for them.
On the card, your helpers will find the person’s first name, age and a list of a few items that they want this Christmas. All they have to do is purchase gifts off of the list and return them to the Tree of Wishes before it closes on Dec. 22 at 9 p.m. No wrapping needed.
Hopefully, your helpers can use their good deeds to earn some extra credit with you this year — and in doing so, will impact families in need across our community. Our community is wonderful, supportive and eager to help, and I am proud to be part of it.
Santa, I promise that I have tried to be good this year, too, and this is the best present you could give me.
Erin Predmore is the executive director of Family Service Center. To learn more about Family Service Center visit www.service2families.org. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.