It’s that time of year when Christmas music fills retail stores, green garland and red bows line shelves and friendly bell-ringers with little red kettles greet you at the door. That simple red kettle is what represents Christmas the most. That ring of the bell reminds shoppers that some St. Joseph families can’t afford Christmas presents for their loved ones.
St. Joseph residents have multiple opportunities to support their neighbors and local community at Christmastime. Salvation Army Captain Chuck Cook says that the citizens of St. Joseph are a caring community who always stand by his organization. The late Thanksgiving holiday is presenting a challenge for the Salvation Army to reach their goal. The fact that Thanksgiving is so late this year, means less time before Christmas for the kettles to be outside the doors. This year’s Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign might be challenged by fewer calendar days, but Captain Cook has confidence in the citizens of St. Joseph.
When St. Joseph residents put something in the kettle, that money not only offers families a more blessed Christmas, but also supports the Salvation Army shelter all year around. The bell ringers took their posts on November 15 and the Salvation Army hopes that by Christmas they will have raised $400,000. Residents also help the Salvation Army by donating toys through the Angel Trees set out at East Hills Mall.
Many St. Joseph citizens also give back to their community through the AFL-CIO Adopt-a-Family Program. Twenty-five families received assistance in 1983 when the program began. Last year, 902 families (2,998 individuals) were given help to have a bountiful Christmas. Over the years, more than 65,500 people have been adopted through the program.
Families in the community who feel blessed with their income, good health and home, generously give to the Adopt-a-Family Program. Employees from many local businesses get together and adopt one or more families, working together as a business team in giving back to their community and making it stronger.
The program makes it very simple to give. Donors can give money that goes toward the whole program or can designate their money for food baskets. They can choose their family or they can ask that one be chosen for them. They can purchase gift certificates, toys, household goods, or whatever they want from a variety of needs on the family’s list. They can choose to drop the gifts off at the AFL-CIO or they can choose to meet their family and deliver it to their doorstep with a compassionate smile that is often followed by a thankful hug.
Economic hardships can strike at any moment. Job loss, a serious health condition, an accident, or other problems can leave a family devastated so much so that they forgo Christmas celebrations. Through community fundraising and charity, St. Joseph gives back. Through winter hat and coat collections at churches and through the Saint Joseph School District, toy drives through local radio stations, food collections given to the Second Harvest Food Bank, and other charitable acts, St. Joseph citizens share the spirit of giving with their community at Christmas.