By Linda Dillman
November heralds the start of the holiday season, but for some, it only reminds them of the difficulty of putting food on the table and providing clothes and gifts for children eagerly awaiting the arrival of Santa Claus.
Filling holiday wish lists for the needy falls upon organizations like Canal Winchester Human Services, who make things a little brighter with the help of individuals, groups and businesses through food drives and monetary donations.
“Right now, we are gearing up for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Human Services Executive Director Aletha Mullins. “We have partnered with the Bryon Saunders Foundation and Canal Winchester Local Schools who are making our Thanksgiving Baskets. We are looking forward to our Thanksgiving distribution this month. We are also in the midst of our Adopt-A-Family program, which is near and dear to my heart.”
When a donor adopts a child through the program, they provide shoes, socks, underwear, pajamas, two outfits and three gifts from “Santa.” Human Services provides the family with a basket filled with provisions to prepare their Christmas dinner, which includes produce, milk, eggs, and butter, as well as a personal hygiene bag.
During Adopt-A-Family distribution, the food pantry is transformed into a coat closet.
“We are very grateful to be receiving new coats from a grant called Operation Warm,” said Mullins. “The families are able to pick out coats for every person in the family. We also provide hats and gloves.”
Providing a happier holiday for the needy takes a community and Mullins said Human Services is grateful for several large donations from groups such as Grace Fellowship Church, Trick-or-Treat for Food, and companies holding drives.
“We never fall short during the holiday’s due to such tremendous support,” said Mullins.
When asked if the number of donations and requests for assistance have changed since last year, she said, as of right now, it is difficult to determine.
In 2021, 251 people were helped though the Adopt-A-Family program, of which 174 were children. Mullins anticipates the number will be about the same or slightly higher considering the rise in prices for consumers.
Human Services assists with basic needs of families or individuals. The Community Food Pantry offers a variety of canned foods, produce, meat and staple items such as milk, eggs, and butter. They also provide a personal section with hygiene items and items for babies such as formula, diapers, wipes, and baby food.
Due to several donations of pet food, the pantry feeds cats and dogs as well.
“We also have assistance for utilities and rent/mortgage,” said Mullins. “We are so thankful for the outpouring support from our community, the city, churches, and local businesses. Human Services would not be able to serve its community like we do without all their support. We are so blessed beyond belief.”
“Santa Boots” are located throughout Canal Winchester and in many local shops to collect change for the 2022 Adopt-A-Family program. Dec. 10 is the second annual Reindeer Games hosted by Destination Canal, which also supports Adopt-A-Family.
To register for the event, visit www.Destinationcw.org , click the event tab and then select Reindeer Games.
Mullins urged people in need of assistance to contact Human Services at 614-834-4700 or visit their website at www.cwhumanservices.org.