For most, the holiday season is a joyous time of year, when homes feature decorated Christmas trees with neatly wrapped presents underneath waiting to be opened on the morning of Dec. 25.

Lt. Keisha McMullin said for those whom The Salvation Army serves, however, the season also brings many open-ended questions, such as “Will there be a Christmas meal on the kitchen table this year?” or “Will my child or children wake up to presents under the Christmas tree?”

“Christmas for all should be a sign of hope, peace, joy and love.  Sadly for some, it is the very opposite,” said McMullin. “Christmas for some can be the most darkest hours. In the midst of the darkness, many are searching for a hint of joy, a hint of peace and a hint of love.”

One way to show this hope, joy, peace and love to a family in need during the holiday season is through the Adopt-A-Family program.

Adopt-A-Family list

This year’s list features 274 families in need of Christmas assistance.

“For The Salvation Army, it has never been about giving a handout; it has always been about giving a hand up to those who need it the most,” said McMullin. “When you adopt a family, you are extending your hand to help pull someone up a little higher during Christmas.”   

Adopt-A-Family, which started in 1980, is sponsored through a partnership between The Salvation Army and The Greenwood Commonwealth. The program provides gifts, groceries and other items to families either in very low-income households or in emergency situations at Christmas through donations from the community.

McMullin and her husband, Lt. Jason McMullin, are in their first year serving the Greenwood community. She said Adopt-A-Family is an innovative way to meet the needs of the community during the Christmas season.

“The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is one of its highest-profile Christmas efforts, but sometimes there are great challenges of meeting the vast needs of the families that we serve,” she said. “This is where the addition of the Adopt-A-Family program is most beneficial. Each donor contribution is a portrait of hope for a family or individual we serve during Christmas.”  

Qualifying families will be listed anonymously in the Commonwealth twice a week, starting Wednesday, until all are adopted. Beginning next week, the list will be published every Tuesday and Friday.

Members of the community, businesses and organizations may adopt a family on the list for a fee of $75, which may be brought to The Salvation Army store at 214 Mississippi 7 S., between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

More than one family may be adopted, and families may be adopted in honor or memory of a loved one.

“The Salvation Army absolutely cannot ‘Do The Most Good’ without the assistance of our community,” said McMullin. “The many donors, businesses, organizations, clubs, community partners and corporate sponsors in our community are the key to the success of our programs.”

She added that members of the community have already reached out to The Salvation Army about adopting a family.

Those on the Adopt-A-Family list are from low-income families or families that have had a recent crisis that has affected them financially — whether it’s having to take care of a sick relative, experiencing a death in the family or any event that has put a family in a tight spot.

The program also allows The Salvation Army to help grandparents who are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren and may not have custody but are going through the process.

Adopt-A-Family assists with providing gifts not only for children but also for senior citizens who would not have a Christmas gift or meal otherwise.

“Many live alone and do not have family that will assist them financially. Many are living on a fixed income, and honestly their monthly income is not enough for Christmas to be specified as a line item in their monthly budget,” said McMullin. “Many of their unmet wants and needs will be fulfilled by their names being on the Adopt-A-Family list.”

Included in the Adopt-A-Family and Angel Tree programs this year, The Salvation Army has a total of 479 needing assistance, with 293 children and 186 senior citizens or disabled.

“It is often easier for one to depict the vastness of a community's needs through statistics,” said McMullin. “Though each family or individual is represented by a number, I can attest that statistics are not just numbers. Attached to every statistic, there is a name, there is a story.”

McMullin knows this not only through her work as a corps officer but also from personal experience.

“I, too, was an Angel Tree child, and it was because of someone's heartfelt contribution that I never had to experience waking up on Christmas without gifts under the Christmas tree.

“By adopting a family, you are restoring hope for that family during what is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. You are creating a lighted path out of the darkness of their circumstances. ... It is only through the generosity of our community and the community’s coming together for common good that each family or individual on our Adopt-A-Family list will have joy-filled hearts and smiling faces on Christmas morning.”

The Salvation Army’s distribution day is set for Dec. 20. McMullin hopes all families will be adopted by Dec. 10 — or Dec. 15 at the latest — in order to purchase all that’s needed for the families before distribution day.

Those who want to mail in a donation to The Salvation Army rather than hand-delivering it may include a family number. Although by the time the mailed donation is received the specified family may already be adopted, The Salvation Army will try to match the donation with a similar family.

For more information about Adopt-A-Family, call The Salvation Army at 455-9679 or McMullin at 466-6434.

Contact Ruthie Robison at 581-7235 or rrobison@gwcommonwealth.com.

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