Darcy Ouellet was super busy on Thursday matching families to sponsors for the Women’s Outreach Society’s Adopt-A-Family program.
Unfortunately, sponsorship numbers are down about 20 per cent for the program that is based in Red Deer, but which that helps single-parent families throughout Central Alberta.
“I think once the snow really hits, and the cold … is when we are going to get a lot busier,” Ouellet said.
“I love Central Alberta. I really do. People want to inherently help. The more that we just get the information out that we still need help, the more people will come.”
Sponsors at this time last year numbered 132. They currently have 106. At this time last year the Outreach Centre had 66 Adopt-A- Family requests. As of Thursday morning, they already had 84. A total of 465 children in 222 families were helped through the program last year.
The Outreach Centre has never yet had to turn anyone away from the program that has been running for over 15 years. Ouellet said he’s not too concerned because it’s still fairly early.
After the Outreach Centre matches a sponsor with a family, they send a wish list from the families to the sponsors who do all the shopping and wrapping. But if a sponsor is too busy, they have volunteers to do shopping, Ouellet said.
The families then come and pick up the donation package, which includes gifts and gift cards for food. Sponsors and “adopted” families remain anonymous to each other.
Ouellet said they haven’t heard from some businesses that have sponsored in the past. At the same time, he’s seeing a number of new sponsors because people know times are tough. “But one’s not offsetting the other.”
For a family to apply, they need to contact the Outreach Centre to make an appointment. Women’s Outreach, the Christmas Bureau, food bank, Mustard Seed and Salvation Army work closely together to make sure no one is left out and there’s is no duplication of services.
Information for sponsors, including an application form, and for families is available on the Outreach Centre’s website, womensoutreach.ca To phone the Outreach Centre call 403-347-2480.
The cutoff dates to be “adopted” is Dec. 14. Ouellet will take sponsors right up until Christmas “until I have every family matched.”
The annual Charity Check Stop, which receives unwrapped gifts and cash to help the Outreach Centre, Christmas Bureau, food bank and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is on Dec. 3, starting at 10 a.m., on Taylor Driver just west of 32nd Street.