ORLEANS — With so many local families focused on making ends meet during the pandemic and the economic crisis, making the holidays bright might be fairly far down on the list of priorities. But as it does each year, the Homeless Prevention Council is working to make sure that, even during COVID-19, holiday wishes can come true.
“Those kids are going to come downstairs on Christmas morning hoping for a gift under the tree,” even if their parents are struggling to put food on the table, HPC campaign organizer Maureen Linehan said. “For some of these clients, this is the only new gift they get all year. Everything else is hand-me-downs.”
With support from donors, HPC provides each client in its “Adopt a Family” program with a new shirt, pants, winter coat, and two “special wishes.” Those special wishes don’t include electronics, and must be under $50 each. For a limited number of kids, bicycles are available as special wishes.
HPC matches children and families with donors who are willing to shop for them, or matches volunteer “moms” to do the shopping on behalf of the donor. The program is flexible, Linehan said.
“It’s a completely donor-driven program, so you can do whatever you want,” she said. If a donor has $50 to contribute, “we’ll find a good place for it,” she said.
To help, call Linehan at 774-801-9501 or email maureen@HPCCapeCod.org, and leave your name and contact information.
So far, 120 families have applied for “adoption.” Many of them are new clients who are feeling the economic pinch from the pandemic. The number of applicants could double in the next weeks, “and these are all people who need help,” Linehan said. “Right now, we’ve run out of donors.” So far, donors have come forward to support just 31 families.
The program began in 1995 with one donor who wanted to buy Christmas presents for one family, and has grown exponentially since then.
“Every year we’ve been able to fulfill everybody’s wishes. We hope this won’t be any different,” Linehan said.
Clients come from within the eight Lower Cape towns covered by the agency, from Harwich to Provincetown. They are screened and prioritized by need, and donors are matched with individual children, from newborns to 18-year-olds, or entire families. Clothing sizes for the children are supplied to donors, along with requests for two special items from each child. Donors are matched with individual children for ages and sexes they wish to shop for; some choose to take care of an entire family.
Like everyone else, HPC volunteers are wondering how the pandemic will evolve in the weeks and months ahead, so the Adopt a Family program is staying flexible.
“We’re running the program like we do every other year, but we’re ready to change at a moment’s notice,” Linehan said. For now, organizers plan to open “Santa’s Workshop” in the former Hallmark store in Skaket Corners, Orleans, to receive gifts. The workshop will open on Nov. 18 and will operate daily from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Dec. 1. But it’s possible to help without visiting in person by contacting Linehan directly.
To help, or to find out about receiving help, visit www.HPCCapeCod.org.