Rita Smith and her House of Compassion volunteers felt a sense of accomplishment last year when 1,090 low-income Marshalltonians enjoyed a happier Christmas courtesy of the organization's "Adopt a Family" program.
The accomplishment was also bittersweet, as Smith and team were concerned about the 83 needy families who were not adopted and left out.
That is why they are encouraging central Iowans to adopt a family now and no later than the Nov. 19 deadline.
From this 2012 photo, Debby McMullen of Marshalltown, a House of Compassion volunteer, is shown delivering Christmas presents to Jill Guzman and son of Marshalltown, as part of the organization’s Adopt a Family program.
"We want all of our less fortunate families to have a happy Christmas," Smith said. "Families will be signing up in early November with the hopes they will be adopted."
All people applying for the program are registered at the HoC and meet Iowa Department of Human Services poverty guidelines. They answer a form designating specific sizes of clothing and other items they hope to receive.
This information is given to the "adopters" who purchase the items for the needy families.
The gifts are then distributed to the "adoptees" by volunteers near Christmas.
Smith said adopters may make cash donations and HoC volunteers will purchase and deliver gifts to the needy.
Checks should be made payable to the HoC and specified in the memo line for the Christmas Adopt a Family program.
Smith said donations of unneeded grocery store food punch cards or company food gifts such as hams and turkeys can also be given to HoC. Volunteers will make sure the needy will benefit.
Smith clarified that "Adopt a Family" does not duplicate assistance given by other organizations.
"Our 'Adopt a Family' initiative does not provide assistance to those receiving help from the Salvation Army," she said. "They have a different set of guidelines."
HoC volunteers Sue Garrels and Carol Sprague of Marshalltown are assisting Smith manage the program this year.
"I urge all central Iowans to adopt a family this Christmas so that all needy families can experience a happy Christmas," Garrels said.
For more information contact the House of Compassion at 641-752-5999.