As far back as I can remember, Epiphany has generously helped YWCA shelter families with seasonal giving. Parishioners provide cheery Easter baskets. At the end of Summer we provision, stuff and deliver back-to-school backpacks. We collect pumpkins, costumes, candy and carving toys for Halloween. We provide generous baskets of food to families so they can make their own Thanksgiving dinners. For Christmas we adopt families and buy and wrap presents, and we also provide dozens of stand-alone unwrapped presents for parents to shop at the YWCA’s holiday gift shop.
Except for this year. The YWCA has been unable to accept donations so far because of COVID-19. As the Outreach Director explained recently:
“We couldn’t ask people to go shopping for presents, in potentially busy stores. There are over a thousand of you. We couldn’t have as many volunteers we need gathered in one place to run the program. It takes almost 400 of them. We couldn’t have all the case managers in one place distributing presents. There are over 50. We couldn’t have all the clients stand in line for pick up. There were 1900 families last year.”
So, YWCA children had no Easter baskets, no school backpacks, no Halloween fun and will have no help for Thanksgiving dinners. HOWEVER—we are trying to salvage Christmas.
Here’s the plan. The YWCA will give us families to adopt. But instead of buying specific presents, the family will request gift cards for specific stores where they can shop for their own kids and for a family Christmas dinner. Adopting a family means you agree to provide a $100 gift card for groceries for the head of the household and two $50 gift cards for each child to stores of their choice (so that’s $100 per child). That means $200 for a one child family and $300 for a two child family. You will still get their information on a form, as in years past, but instead of toys, stores will be listed for you to buy gift cards where the parent(s) can purchase the toys.
We have historically asked for 30 families, half one child families and half two child families. This year we are taking on 50 families—half one child and half two child. If we have enough sign-ups for more, I will ask for more.
Please email me ASAP if you can take on a family or two — firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know if you’d like a one or two child family. As soon as I have the family assignments I will get them to everyone who signs up. Signing up NOW will help me know how many families we can provide for, so please consider doing that.
The gift cards need to be purchased and in my hands by DECEMBER 1. You can drop them off at the church office or at my house (you can drop them in my mail slot 24/7) or I am happy to pick them up at your place.
If you cannot fund an entire family, we understand. Perhaps you can join with a friend or other family members to adopt a family. Please, all parish ministries, small groups and dinner groups—you can help provide for these shelter families. Just email me and let me know what your ministry or group will sign up for and who will have the gift cards ready. Also consider that if you usually contribute to the YWCA Easter, Halloween, Backpack and/or Thanksgiving drives, you haven’t had those opportunities this year but you can do it all at once now by adopting a YWCA shelter family for Christmas. COVID-19 has hit them harder than ever and it is easier for you to donate this year this year than ever before. Thank you for your generous spirit! I hope to hear from you soon.