Volunteers help bring families Hope for Christmas

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JEFFERSON CITY - Hope for Christmas volunteers are working to give qualified families a Christmas they might not have without the extra help.

Hope for Christmas Founder Vicki Bullock said the program started six years ago when a doctor asked her if she could help a family who just lost its father to cancer.

Bullock said that year she and a couple others helped provide gifts to 25 families.

"This year were at 1,431 families in 36 counties in Missouri," Bullock said.

Hope for Christmas helps families who are referred, she said.

"They go through quite a process actually," Bullock said. "They're referred by doctors or nurses, churches. Sometimes it's the organization that they work for."

Stephanie Scott-Huffman attends Table of Grace Church and helps refer families.

"People who come to me and tell me that they're struggling," Scott-Huffman said. "That they're not able to provide Christmas for their kids."

Bullock said most referred families have encountered a traumatic event in the last six to eight months. 

"Death of a parent, death of a child, someone in the family has cancer, or going through a very serious time," Bullock said.

"That's one of our calls is to help the people who are more marginalized," Scott-Huffman said. 

Bullock said most of the families need Hope for Christmas because they do not qualify for other agencies' help.

"They're the ones that would fall between the cracks," Bullock said.

She said she personally interviews families to verify stories.

"Then we also submit our list of individuals or families that have come to us and we submit that to other agencies around and check to make sure that they aren't double dipping," Bullock said.

Hope for Christmas said it still has families up for "adoption."

Bullock said Hope for Christmas will use donated money to provide gifts for families who are not adopted.

Until Dec. 9, an anonymous donor will double all donations. 

"If you, for instance, donate $25 it immediately becomes $50," Bullock said. "And then, when we take it out, and we have special shoppers that go out and shop for our families that don't get adopted. Once they take it to two retailers that we utilize every year, it again gets doubled. So your $25 became $50 and then it becomes $100." 

Family profiles can be found on Hope for Christmas' website or Facebook page.