Adopt-a-Child helps children have a happier Christmas
By Susan Shinn Turner
Prevent Child Abuse Rowan
SALISBURY — Jenn Williams is an overachiever. Each year, she puts her heart and soul into the Adopt-a-Child Christmas program at Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.
This year, she’d love for others to join her.
This is the fifth year for the project that helps some of the children served by the nonprofit organization. Executive Director Beth McKeithan estimates that the agency will serve about 150 children this year.
Williams will take the lion’s share of the tags, but plenty of other tags are available. Each year, the agency lists needs and wants on the gift tags.
Unwrapped gifts should be delivered to the agency, located in the Terrie Hess House at 130 Woodson St., by Dec. 17.
Julie Freeze, the agency’s clinical services coordinator, is serving as “head elf” for Adopt-a-Child.
As always, Freeze, says, there’s a need for coats, clothing, socks, underwear and hygiene items. This year, LOL dolls top the list for girls — Freeze admits she’d never heard of them — as well as Barbies and Paw Patrol. Boys, as usual, love sports equipment and Legos.
“We are still in the process of contacting families,” Freeze said Tuesday. “We will serve as many families as possible, even those who come in at the last minute.”
Freeze praised Williams for her willingness to help.
“She’s doing a lot this year for us,” Freeze said. “She’s been a huge help.”
“This is one of the things I take more pride in than anything,” Williams said. “As soon as I found out about it, I wanted to help.”
Williams, owner of The Hair Place in Kannapolis, shares tags with clients and with dance moms at Spotlight Dance Co., where she’s an instructor. Williams planned to take anywhere from 50 to 100 tags.
That’s a lot.
Williams laughed. “I’m an overachiever.”
But the agency is near and dear to her heart, she said. She did not come from an abusive home, but things were not perfect, either. Williams said she shops all year long for sales and clearances, accumulating clothing, toys and games.
“It does help to give us a running start,” said Williams, who will help the staff organize the gifts.
Williams said the project is a rewarding one for her. “I don’t get to meet the children, but I know that children all over Rowan County will have Christmas thanks to the help of my friends and family. It makes it all worth it.”
McKeithan said Williams is also helping make calls to families — checking in to see what they need for Christmas.
“Some families tell us they’re OK, and they want someone else to have the gifts,” McKeithan noted.
McKeithan said the agency could use additional help to call families to coordinate delivery or pick-up of the gifts once they’re ready. “People are always looking for ways to volunteer, and we don’t have a lot of options. But this could definitely be a way to help.”
She complimented groups such as the Kiwanis Club, The Forum fitness center and China Grove Middle School for their longtime participation in this project.
Don’t have time to shop or not familiar with the myriad toys and games out there this year? Not a problem, Freeze said, because monetary donations are also accepted.
“We have volunteers who are willing to shop for us,” she said.
Freeze emphasized that the gifts purchased need not be wrapped.
“We like for parents to have that choice as to how they will present these gifts,” she said.
Freeze thanked the community for its “amazing response” to Adopt-a-Child.
“We’re so lucky to be in this community to have people sponsor children after they’ve had a hard year,” she said. “We’re so thankful to help them have a great Christmas.”
“After all the children have been through, it breaks our hearts to think that they may not have a Christmas,” McKeithan says. “So we are here to make sure they do.”
She shared a comment she received from a parent last Christmas: “I wanted to let you know again how much our child and I appreciate the love showered on us during the most difficult time she has faced so far in her life. I am forever grateful for your hearts and how God uses your talents to help so many through living horrors. I can’t begin to explain the emotions we had with each and every thing y’all did for us, emotionally and physically. I remember our child getting gifts for Christmas that made me cry for days after seeing her smile sincerely for the first time in months. The gratitude displayed through you from this community is outstanding.”
If you’d like to participate in Adopt-a-Child or volunteer, call Prevent Child Abuse Rowan at 704-639-1700.