By Abbie Bennett
The nonprofit Matthews HELP Center was able to create a Christmas for 841 people last year, and is looking to top that number this year. But with 210 families sponsored so far, there are still more than 55 families who are on a waiting list for a sponsor.
The HELP Center, 119 N. Ames St., is asking the community for donations and sponsorship for these remaining families.
Kim Rhodarmer, the center’s executive director, said more families are coming forward.
“We’re adding to that waiting list every day until the 21st,” she said. “People are still able to donate.”
Rhodarmer said that over the past three years, the need has grown steadily, serving 178 families in 2009, 198 families in 2010 and 249 families last year.
“And that doesn’t take into account the actual total number of people. Last year it was 249 families, but 841 people,” she said. “Some families have one child, some may have six. It’s amazing that we’re able to provide for so many, but there are always more that need help.”
Rhodarmer said there is a specific way people can donate to help out the most.
“At this particular time, given our time period from now until Christmas, probably the best gifts are gift cards to Walmart,” she said. “We like having them in $25 to $50 amounts. Those gift cards allow us to supplement gifts that the HELP Center has already received that were not for a specific child. For example, we wouldn’t have anything aimed at a 16-year-old boy, but those cards can help supplement and parents are able to shop for what the child will want.”
Rhodarmer said those willing to donate can drop off the gift cards at the center 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
“We’re just so thankful that the community is so generous every year and helps us help these families,” she said. “Every little bit helps.”
For more information on the Help Center, go to www.matthewshelpcenter.org.