With the holiday season beginning to settle in the Valley, the Vista Del Camino Community Center is trying to do its part to ensure the time of year is enjoyable for all.
In order to accomplish that goal, the center has its Adopt-a-Family program for both Thanksgiving and Christmas to help local, low-income families who may be in need during the holiday season.
“We find sponsors who are willing to pick up the Thanksgiving meal and then the December holiday that coincides around the 25th of December, but it’s really about the gifts for the children,” Vista Del Camino Manager Eugene Munoz-Villafane said in a Nov. 15 phone interview.
“That’s how the program started: how to help families that have a low income afford to have a decent holiday where the kids have toys and there is food on Thanksgiving.”
So far this season, Mr. Munoz-Villafane said in an email response, more than 400 families will benefit from donations for Thanksgiving with the help of the Scottsdale Fire Department, Concerned Citizens for Community Health and many other local businesses, religious groups and private citizens.
The Scottsdale Fire Fighters Association alone raised the equivalent of 400 turkeys during a drive in north Scottsdale over the weekend of Nov. 12-13, Mr. Munoz-Villafane said.
With efforts like this, Mr. Munoz-Villafane said he is impressed every year with the giving nature of the community and the desire to share with those who might not have as much as them.
“It’s a very rewarding time of year for me, not just for me but for our staff and I think for the sponsors as well,” he said. “It’s a sign that they do care and they care about someone they might not even meet during the holidays.”
In order to qualify for the program, Mr. Munoz-Villafane said a family needs to live in Scottsdale and fall under low-income status or 200 percent under the federal poverty level.
Mr. Munoz-Villafane also said the center then requests donations from sponsors for those families it has screened. Sponsors are both private citizens, companies or churches in the Scottsdale area.
Sponsors have the option to adopt a family for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but if a donor only wishes to donate for Thanksgiving, the center will not give them a specific family, according to an information pamphlet. However, if the donor wishes to adopt for both holidays will be matched with the same family for both holidays.
For Thanksgiving, the center asks sponsors to bring in dinner foods such as dressing, potatoes and gravy, rolls or a desert. Additionally, donors can drop off a $25 gift card or a turkey, the pamphlet states.
For Christmas, the center focuses more on the needs of the children as staff provides donors with a brief biography of the family, including gift suggestions and sizes for the children, the pamphlet states. The center also accepts food donations for Christmas dinner, according to a pamphlet.
“(Donations are) essential and impactful for the sponsored households,” Mr. Munoz-Villafane said in a Nov. 15 email response. “For the large majority, this is the only highlights of their holidays since financial and economic distress stress take priority over self-care. Bills have to be paid, prescriptions need to be afforded and a holiday meal or gifts for their children are secondary to their basic needs.”
Mr. Munoz-Villafane said sponsors typically want to adopt a family during the December holidays, but the center does receive a significant amount of public donations during the Thanksgiving time of year.
As far as those who serve, Mr. Munoz-Villafane said the smiles on children’s faces and the gratitude of those who receive these services is the most rewarding part of this program for him.
“It lets them know someone else cares about them in our Scottsdale community,” he said.
“Lastly, the joy of giving in the volunteer’s time spent helping us with the program. Everyone from firefighters, individual, faith organizations, sponsors and community volunteers. I can’t express the great sense of community and of giving back to those in our community who are less fortunate. That is Scottsdale’s way.”
The 14th annual Adopt-a-Family program will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Black Canyon City at High Desert Park from 9 a.m. to noon and on Sunday, Dec. 11, at Holland Community Center in north Scottsdale from 1-4 p.m.
According to Pam DiPietro, executive director of Foothills Food Bank, all families must be signed up by Dec 7. Individual donors as well as donor groups such as businesses, HOAs, churches, and schools, are encouraged to participate in this year’s Adopt-a-Family program.
News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 623-445-2738