For more than a decade, Jewish Family & Child Service has asked individuals, families and community groups to “adopt” local low-income households by providing much-needed Hanukkah or Christmas gifts. Through the Adopt-a-Family campaign, JFCS matches low-income individuals and families in the Portland area with community members who are willing to pitch in. Last year, the program brought holiday gifts and cheer to 62 families or individuals.
The requests are often simple and poignant. For example, an 89-year-old woman who is a survivor of the Holocaust lives on her own and is struggling with multiple health problems. Her newborn great-grandchildren are her greatest joy, but they don’t live in Oregon, and she dreams of being able to travel and visit them one day. Meanwhile, she cherishes the photos that she receives, and one of her requests is for picture frames for the photographs she holds dear.
Another request this year came from a family in stress. The single mother with four children works full time despite serious health conditions. The two oldest children are developmentally disabled, and one has missed a great deal of school so far this year due to illness and having multiple medical appointments. Meanwhile, the younger twin boys help out as much as they can. The children’s father has been in and out of recovery programs and does not provide any financial or other support. The family is struggling just to make ends meet, and they are in debt on their electric bill. With winter approaching, they worry about how they will manage during the cold weather. They are asking for warm clothes and help to catch up with their energy bill.
JFCS Emergency Aid Program Coordinator Maria Rehbach says that the needs have never been greater or more compelling in the seven years she’s overseen the program. A recent report released by the Oregon Center for Public Policy bears this out.
“Despite half a decade of economic recovery, too many Oregonians still struggle to make ends meet. For those who are able to work, low wages and too few good jobs are just some of the reasons why Oregonians today are more likely to live in poverty than they were during the Great Recession.”
“We may not be able to change the world, but we can certainly make a difference for a needy family right here in our community,” says Rehbach. “Our goal is to shine a ray of light by providing children with toys, clothing and other necessities, and the whole entire family with household essentials including sheets, towels and perhaps a gift card to help buy groceries.”
If you are willing and able to aid an individual or family, please contact Maria Rehbach at 503-226-7079, ext. 128, or firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a cash contribution visit jfcs-portland.org/giving/holiday-campaign.