With Christmas fast approaching, people are putting together their shopping lists of gifts to purchase. However, not everyone is so fortunate to be able to buy such things without worrying about the financial part of it.
Fortunately, organizations like United Way take the pressure off such worries.
United Way is in the midst of its two biggest holiday programs: Adopt-A-Family and Toys for Kids.
Adopt-A-Family involves an individual, family, group or organization doing as the name suggests and providing gifts for a family that would otherwise receive little this holiday season.
Toys for Kids — run by Pat Robinson who partners with United Way — allows for toys to be dropped off at locations in Yankton. The toys will later be given to children from low-income families.
"(Pat) is Mrs. Claus and we’re her elves, so we do the administrative work," United Way director Lauren Hanson explained.
For Adopt-A-Family, United Way receives referrals from local agencies and the Yankton School District on which families qualify for the program. From there, the families provide a list of the home occupants and requested items.
United Way encourages educational gifts for the children, such as books, puzzles, board games and STEM toys. Adults may also request items such as winter wear, bedding, towels, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
Gifts such as electronics or gift cards are discouraged.
According to Hanson, between 300-400 children and approximately 40 families are served through Adopt-A-Family each year.
"There seems to be new families on this list every year," she said. "There are families that are going through hard situations, and if we step up as a community and help them get through the holidays, it puts some ease in their lives. To help them get through that is really powerful."
Though the deadline for Adopt-A-Family has passed, people can still take part in Toys for Kids by dropping off items at these locations: Yankton Rexall, Maurices, Dunham’s Sports, Walgreens and Menards. Items can be dropped off through Dec. 14.
"Without Pat and the service organizations that give us referrals, these projects wouldn’t be possible," Hanson said. "It amazes us year after year how many people participate in helping families in need during this time of year. It’s a testament in how caring Yankton is as a community. Its citizens are always willing to step up and help people, and that’s a really heartwarming thing."