Sadly, there are a lot of names on the list to receive gifts of food and clothing through an annual Christmas time campaign sponsored by a host of local agencies that serve those in need.
The Holiday Gift Basket program is sponsored by the Barton County Association of Churches with support from such groups as the Emergency Aid Council, Salvation Army and Catholic Charities. Names of the needy are collected with the hope that churches, clubs, or other organizations or individuals will call and offer to help.
However, “for some reason, we just haven’t had a good response,” said Nancy Sundahl, one of the drive organizers. So far, only a handful of groups have stepped forward.
Unfortunately, “there is a lot of need,” Sundahl said. With the recent economic downturn, there have been increased layoffs and cutting of work hours.
There is a lot of competition for donations at this time of year, she said. But, all of these groups are seeing less giving.
Enter the Gift Basket project.
Those wanting assistance were able to call and have their names added to a list and say how many there were in the household. Now, those wishing to contribute can call in and pick a name or names from that list.
Volunteers then purchase items, box them up and deliver the package to the person they selected. These boxes can contain the fixings for a holiday meal or clothes.
This year, the listing has been centralized. Everyone is encouraged to call the RSVP office, whether needing help or wanting to help.
“Before, people needing assistance would call different entities, causing confusion. “This year, we have one central clearing house, a central data base,” Sundahl said.
The change will help prevent some families from being helped twice and others from being left out, she said.
“It’s an overwhelming process,” she said. “You just do the best you can and reach the people you need to reach.”
To help, call RSVP at 620-792-1614.
For more information, call Sundahl at 620-793-5894, the Salvation Army at 620-792-4299 or Catholic Charities at 620-792-1393.