Callaway County Donors Pick Up The Pieces

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COLUMBIA - Every family registered under SERVE Inc. of Callaway County's Adopt-A-Family program will receive a Christmas gift this year. The non-profit organization's program accepted 1,100 children, seniors and disabled adults throughout the county to receive gifts. The organization lowered the requirements for individuals to apply from families living at 120 percent of the poverty level to 125 percent. Program coordinators said there has been a positive response to the shift in requirements, with the number of families registered increasing from last year.

Despite the growing number of families accepted into the program, the amount of sponsors adopting families has decreased this year. As of the first week of December, 270 children and 82 adults had yet to be adopted by families.

Callaway Action Network Director Julie Roark said donors and contributions made by local organizations filled the gaps to supply for the needs of low-income families throughout Callaway County.

"I think, as a community, we are aware of our needs as well as little bit of our limitations. We've seen a lot of people just step up," said Roark.

Roark also said the community donations decreased the burden of having to deliver bad news to families.

"To see our community support this program means a lot and it says a lot for our community and I think that, I know that I haven't been able to express enough gratitude because when they come in to drop off their donations, it's very overwhelming and you can't really express what it's like to see that outpour and knowing that this community is making a difference for their neighbors," said Roark.

Roark has been with SERVE Inc. for 15 years. She said faith and hope keeps her motivated to continue producing the Adopt-A-Family program yearly. "We rely so much on our community, but it never ceases to amaze me that it really just sometimes comes to the wire and you're praying that something is going to happen and then all of a sudden... it's there," said Roark.

The Fulton Professional Firefighters Union Local 2945 created a toy drive after hearing about the loss in sponsors for the program this year. Fulton Ford and Fulton's Dollar General helped the union collect more than 150 gifts. Firefighter president Merit McLeod said the union's main goal is to serve the community.

"For the community hopefully, it helps realize that we're here to help and that it'll definitely make some kids day on Christmas morning that otherwise wouldn't have something," said McLeod.

Fulton's Walmart and Dollar General distribution center also donated more than $2,000 worth of items.