HACAP Holiday Program Not Accepting as Many Applicants to Avoid Disappointment

By Dave Franzman, Reporter


By Dave Franzman

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- A popular holiday program to match needy families with willing donors isn’t accepting as many applications this year. But organizers say it’s really a case of not wanting to disappoint people at the last minute rather than a cutback in the program.

Last year, HACAP’s Adopt-a-Family program accepted 450 applications from families that needed help in providing a Merry Christmas for the kids. That was essentially everyone who applied. The organization matches families with needs and donors which are either individuals or sometimes groups of employees at a company. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough donors in the 2012 holiday season and approximately 100 of those families received nothing at all for Christmas.

Mitch Finn, deputy director at the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, said the organization tried to better match the families with the number of potential donors this year. Instead of accepting all applications, some schools were limited to just five families. Finn said a total of 330 families in the area served by HACAP were accepted into the Adopt-a-Family program and have found a donor match. However, at least another 50 families on the list are still not matched with donors. Finn said he’s fairly confident the organization can find donors for the remaining families before Christmas. But HACAP won’t accept any new applications until the families still on the list are matched.

Donors who join the program contact the families to see what their needs are for Christmas and provide appropriate presents as well as a food basket.

Nicole McDuffie is a single mother with four kids. She has limited means and there’s not much under the family’s Christmas tree now. But a relative told her about HACAP’s Adopt-a-Family and what a difference the gifts made.

“She said she was so surprised and in tears when the family came and brought so many things for the kids,” McDuffie said. But McDuffie got her application in late and hasn’t heard about finding a donor family for her kids yet.

Andrea Brommelkamp, who works with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, became a donor for the first time this year along with her husband. She also convinced others in the Kernels office to adopt another HACAP family as a group. Brommelkamp said when she learned HACAP was having problems finding enough donors, she also posted the appeal on her Facebook page and found three others to volunteer.

“It’s a great opportunity for these people to have a good Christmas whereas maybe they had someone laid off or someone’s out of work,” Brommelkamp said.

Some organizations are trying to help out by picking up some of the slack for donors. Pierce Elementary, where two of McDuffie’s children attend, has appealed to nearby churches to adopt school families that didn’t make HACAP’s list. At the H.D. Youth Center, organizers already had plans for a Christmas Dinner for the community on December 21st. Families that missed out getting a donor through HACAP are invited to the meal and will get a chance to pick presents there for the kids and get a food basket later.

Finn said it’s not too late to sign up for Adopt-a-Family to help this year. Those interested can call United Way’s 2-1-1 information line or e-mail Holidays@HACAP.org .

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