The holidays are upon us and several local non-profits are looking for some elves to help Santa deliver a little Christmas cheer to area families.
AWARE is seeking individuals or organizations to participate in its Sponsor-a-Family program. The nonprofit domestic violence and sexual assault prevention center is based in Juneau, but serves nine other communities in Southeast from Yakutat to Tenakee Springs.
Organizer Mandi Johnson says donations will go to help women and families who have utilized AWARE’s services in the past year.
“That includes coming in for legal help, to coming to our women’s education group or children’s groups, to staying here, to just calling us on the phone for the crisis line,” she says.
Johnson says about 30 families are signed up for this year’s program. Most already have sponsors, but there’s a need for one or two more. She says the goal is to give each family a food basket and a few holiday gifts.
“Basic winter items like hats and gloves and we also ask the families if they need kind of fun toy as well,” says Johnson. “So like a toy or a stuffed animal the kids are kind of interested in as well – just to make it a little extra special holiday for them.”
Captain Donald Warriner with the Salvation Army says food always seems to be a big need during the holidays.
“What happens is, we give out 200 food boxes and then that kind of depletes our food for the following year,” Warriner says.
The Salvation Army is already well into its delivery schedule for those 200 boxes.
“We’ve already delivered some of those for the smaller families without kids. But Thursday is our distribution for the families with kids,” he says. “So they’ll be getting coats, they’ll be getting toys, and they’re going to be getting a big food box with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, all that stuff.”
But no matter when donations come in, Warriner says they’ll find a use for them. He says they’re always running low on gifts for teenage boys.
“They’re hard to buy for. So, like, toolkits or wallets, cologne sometimes. Another nice thing is like a gift card to McDonalds or iTunes if they have an iPod. Or even to the theater, it gives them something to do that they might not have a chance to do,” Warriner says.
Despite a relatively strong economy in Juneau, Warriner says the Salvation Army will probably serve 25 to 30 more families than it did last year.
“I know unemployment’s kind of not that bad in Juneau, but here it costs a lot to live,” he says. “So you have people that have a job, it’s just that they don’t have enough to make ends meet.”