Volunteers bring holiday cheer to those in need
By Kathleen Folkerth
GREATER AKRON — When Pat Senecal decided she wanted to do something for others during last year’s holiday season, she found out about the adopt-a-family program at the Battered Women’s Shelter.
“It was a cause I always championed, and I felt if I could help in some way, I would like to,” said Senecal, a retired teacher who lives in Cuyahoga Falls.
Senecal called the United Way
of Summit County’s Volunteer Center, which compiles
a list of volunteer needs at the holidays and all year,
and selected the Battered
Women’s Shelter from the many organizations seeking
The adopt-a-family concept appealed
to Senecal because she and her daughter, Stephanie Elton,
could work together on the project.
“What I liked most was
knowing that for three kids and their mother, even though
they had been through horrible turmoil, they would still
be able to celebrate Christmas,” Senecal said.
There’s no shortage of
families that are in need in Summit County this year,
according to Pam Beals, director of the Volunteer Center.
Many of these families are being served by the United
Way’s member agencies and are on lists as the
recipients of adopt-a-family programs.
Beals said many groups and families
like to participate in an adopt-a-family program during
“What attracts them is
the individual attention they can give to a specific
family,” Beals said. “You know you’re
getting gifts for a particular family that may not have
had a Christmas or holiday season this year.”
With the adopt-a-family programs,
participants receive a list that gives details
on the family members, such as gender, age, sizes and
particular items they need.
From there, the volunteers shop
for the family, wrap gifts and deliver them to the agency
coordinating the donation.
Senecal said she and her daughter
enjoyed the experience.
“We went shopping together,
and it was a bonding experience for the two of us,”
she said. “It’s a wonderful way to spend
the Christmas season.”
In addition to adopt-a-family
opportunities, the Volunteer Center has several other
ways locals can assist agencies as they serve local
people in need. Some are in need of gift cards for groceries,
items such as hats and gloves, or the donation of time
to help pack groceries for food giveaways or man toy
Beals said with the current economy,
the needs are many. She hopes that rising gas prices
won’t keep people from helping others.
“But I won’t be shocked
to see that we have the same turnout of volunteers,”
she said. “It always seems that people come through
to help other people.”
For more information, contact
the United Way of Summit County Volunteer Center
at (330) 643-5512.
Because of donations and other
help from the community, the Salvation Army of Summit
County’s Christmas Assistance program was a success
Photo courtesy of United
Way of Summit County’s Volunteer Center