Adopt-A-Family program is accepting applications

For many people in the Estacada area, winter is hard.

In the 2012-13 school year, 54 percent of Estacada students were on free or reduced lunches.

Many children lack warm clothes or shoes that fit.

Some families have recently lost a loved one or are struggling under mounting medical debt.

There are homeless members of the community.

Some people have moved to the area to harvest trees, and may have never before experienced an Oregon winter.

Even though times are difficult, Janet Kiger-Hellard wants to make sure all of these folks get to enjoy the holiday season.

Kiger-Hellard heads the Adopt-a-Family program, which strives to match sponsors with families in crisis to provide necessities during the holiday season.

“What we do is to really try to bring some hope to families that are struggling and let them know that someone really cares about them,” Kiger-Hellard said of the Adopt-a-Family program.

Here’s how the program works: families in need from Estacada, Eagle Creek and Colton may pick up an application at the Estacada Public Library.

They’ll be asked to provide information on the gender and age of each family member, clothing sizes, favorite colors and items for which there is a pressing need.

“Mostly with the program we focus on basic needs. Things people need to survive the winter,” Kiger-Hellard said.

Families also will be asked to provide a brief explanation of why they are in need of assistance.

The explanation is intended to personalize the experience for the sponsors, but the names of the families will be kept anonymous.

There are different forms for families that are new to the program and families that have been adopted before.

First-time families are prioritized.

Starting Sunday, Oct. 15, the Adopt-a-Family volunteers will start reviewing applications and matching sponsors with families.

“I have a family to fit everyone,” Kiger-Hellard said.

Kiger-Hellard explained that would-be sponsors shouldn’t be discouraged by limited means.

Sponsors of limited means can be paired with individuals or small families.

No money to give?

No problem.

The program welcomes shoppers to help find gifts for families with money that has been donated the program.

Applications from families who wish to be adopted will be accepted through Tuesday, Nov. 26.

An Adopt-a-Family volunteer will be collecting applications from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Estacada Public Library.

Sponsors and shoppers will drop off gifts for the adopted families Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 11-12, at the Estacada Community Center, 200 Clubhouse Drive.

The adopted families will come with photo identification or proof of address to pick up their gifts on Friday, Dec. 13.

In order to preserve their anonymity, the families won’t cross paths with the sponsors.

Kiger-Hellard, who has been running Adopt-a-Family for the last four years, estimates the program adopts between 130 and 184 families a year.

Kiger-Hellard got involved with the Adopt-a-Family program several years ago when her friend, Norma Piper, asked her to adopt a family.

She said it was a lot of fun shopping for the family and letting her imagination run wild.

The family she had adopted wrote her a Christmas card that said “Muchos gracias.”

The card “melted her heart.”

Reading through some of the cards adopted families have written to their sponsors over the years, again and again the sentiment of “there wouldn’t have been Christmas without you” comes up.

“It really puts you in the Christmas spirit to be shopping for someone else. Especially if they really need it,” Kiger-Hellard said.

For more information, call Kiger-Hellard at 503-630-7433.

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