For years, Meeting House members have supported the Holiday Sharing Program through Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services.
We are the largest, single sponsor of the program. Last year, the Meeting House directly sponsored 188 individuals (34 families, including 89 children; 27 senior/disabled adults; and 38 foster teens). Over 100 members of the Meeting House participated, as well as the Deacons and Circle 5.
Recently, Anna Davis, who leads the Meeting House’s Holiday Sharing efforts, sat down with Krystal Fenwick, coordinator of the Holiday Sharing Program for the city, to discuss how the Meeting House contributes to the success of the Holiday Sharing program.
Anna Davis: How do people become eligible for the Holiday Sharing Program?
Krystal Fenwick: In order to qualify, the families and adults must live at or below the poverty level. They are receiving medical, food and/or cash benefits from the City of Alexandria.
Anna: What does the Holiday Sharing program mean to the people it serves?
Krystal: For most recipients, the gifts they receive are the only gifts they receive. Many are unemployed or under employed, and even those with one or more jobs are living paycheck to paycheck, so there’s nothing left for discretionary spending on presents.
The responses I get from recipients really tell the story. I am frequently told that Holiday Sharing made Christmas the best ever for their family.
I also hear tremendous gratitude for the generosity of sponsors to provide desperately needed items as well as special gifts. Meeting House members help restore the faith of many who have fallen on hard times.
Anna: How great is the need? Do all those who apply/qualify for the program get matched? If not, what happens?
Krystal: As much as we do, we don’t come close to meeting the need. The Holiday Sharing program accepts 700 family applications, but can usually match about half of those with sponsors.
For the other half, the families are invited to participate in the Toy Drive. Depending on the year, each child under 13 will usually receive three or four toys. Older children receive a $50 gift card.
Obviously, the families with sponsors receive needed clothing as well as items from their wish lists.
Anna: What would you like me to say to our congregation about its role in the Holiday Sharing program?
Krystal: Thank you! The Meeting House means everything to the program! Without your support, the program would not be the success it is. The congregation goes above and beyond to help make Christmas special for its neediest neighbors. I also know that I can call with a special need or situation and that you will find some way to make it happen.
I am so grateful to the Meeting House for your tremendous effort and generosity.
Signups for the Holiday Sharing program have begun. Put your name on the dotted line after either worship service until Sunday, October 27, or sign up online.
To learn more about Holiday Sharing, contact Anna.