Adopt a Family for the Holidays & Feed Them All Year Long
Food and gratitude are two of the things that keep many people and organizations running this time of year, including the Community Cooperative. Founded in 1984, last year the organization provided over a million pounds of food to those in need.
CEO Tracey Galloway says, “Food is the primary driver of our organization with the soup kitchen, our food pantries (both mobile and stationary), and our Meals on Wheels program.” And during the holidays, things increase to a pace that is almost frenzied at times.
Not only does the soup kitchen maintain its daily food programs, but also prepares special holiday meals. More meals are delivered to seniors during the holidays and with kids out of school, more families need help filling in the blanks for breakfast and lunch.
The holiday season proves especially difficult for struggling families having to explain to their children why they may not have a holiday meal or gifts to open this year. Community Cooperative’s mission expands beyond food.
Adopt a Family
The Adopt a Family program began about five years ago to support families who are working with the organization’s social service programs and who are in long-term case coaching. Galloway explains, “Our objective with the coaching is to strengthen families. We help parents set and achieve goals for things such as budgets or finishing a degree, and goals for the kids include things such as homework and grades.”
“We try to create long-term, positive change, the kind of changes that affect lives. So when the holidays come around, if a family is doing better but still doesn’t have enough money for a Christmas tree, presents, or a meal, we don’t want them to feel pressure,” says Galloway.
This is where the community comes in to Adopt a Family. Lists of needs and wants are gathered and then a family is paired with an individual and/or an organization wanting to participate.
Galloway says, “Families and co-workers often have wrapping parties for the gifts they are donating. It’s a feel-good project for everyone who is involved.”
Adopt a Senior
The same holds true for the Adopt a Senior program. Most of these men and women are Meals on Wheels clients who are living by themselves. Galloway explains, “Think of your grandmother or grandfather; What would they need?” It’s often simple things like fuzzy, non-skid socks, lotion, crossword puzzles, magnifying devices, and such. The sentiment behind the program is basic, “You’re loved and you’re not alone,” says Galloway.
Even if you don’t adopt a family, Community Cooperative still takes new, unwrapped toys, books, and stuffed animals to fill last minute needs. For example, she says, “One Christmas Eve our doorbell rang. It was a foster parent who received a phone call the night before. Two young children were removed from their home, were coming to her, and she had nothing for them.”
With the help of Community Cooperative, those shell-shocked children, who woke up without their parents were not left without gifts on Christmas morning.
If you are hosting or planning a large holiday party of any kind, where there is often a lot of food left over, call Community Cooperative for a “food rescue.” Galloway explains, “Trays of unserved food such as cookies and sandwiches can be donated for use in the soup kitchen. Our clients love it because it’s something new and different from what we serve them every day.”
You can also add a purpose to your holiday party by asking for donations of food, toys, and hygiene items. Community Cooperative also assists the area’s homeless population. If you are not hosting a party, or are unable to adopt a family, you can still help the soup kitchen’s mission with monetary donations or by volunteering.
Beyond the Holidays
Although December is the peak time for giving time and money, the mission of Community Cooperative and the need is one that is year round. Volunteers actually started toasting bread in August to make all of the dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. It’s quite an undertaking.
Wren and Bev Whitaker are longtime volunteers for Community Cooperative and say, “This is very fulfilling work and something we enjoy and can do together. It’s so great to see all the people that are so dedicated to the service of others. Being around people who love to help people is a grand reward.”
For more information on the services and mission of Community Cooperative, go to CommunityCooperative.com. If you would like to adopt a family, adopt a senior, volunteer, or make a holiday donation, email: Christmas@CommunityCooperative.com or call 239.332.7687 ext. 110