- On October 8, 2020
For more than four decades, Wake County has asked local residents to help brighten the holiday season for less fortunate children, families and seniors by participating in its annual Holiday Cheer program. And every year, they respond with generous donations of meals and gifts.
But, with COVID-19 forcing thousands out of work, the need for donations this holiday season is expected to be greater than ever before.
“In a normal year, more than 800 residents would benefit from the generosity of our community, but 2020 is not a normal year,” said Wake County Commissioner Susan Evans. “We’re expecting more than 1,000 people to qualify for the program this year, which is why we’re putting the call out for donations now – in hopes that Wake County will respond in a big way.”
The program provides the opportunity for individuals or organizations to volunteer to serve as a sponsor for a recipient.
Holiday Cheer is in particular need of sponsors who:
- Speak Spanish;
- Can help families in rural Wake County; or
- Can sponsor adults 18+ with cognitive disabilities and no family support.
Interested volunteers can begin signing up Oct. 9 and will be matched with their assigned recipients by the end of October. All those who receive assistance from Holiday Cheer are nominated by their social worker or case manager and do not sign up themselves. Staff ask that all donations be delivered to their sponsored household by Dec. 18.
To enable enhanced social distancing, sponsors can make donations using Amazon wish lists. Then, the gifts or gift cards will be delivered directly to the recipient’s home. The program still offers volunteers the option to buy, wrap and deliver their own gifts as in previous years, but organizers will require both parties to follow social distancing and safety guidelines.
“The unfortunate truth is that many families do not have the financial resources this year to buy holiday meals or gifts,” said Wake County Seasonal Volunteer Coordinator Aryn Banks. “Our goal is to alleviate that stress and make this holiday season a little brighter for those who are struggling, but we can’t do it alone. We need the community’s support.”
While Christmas gifts are the most popular donation, there is a high demand for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to be donated, as well, especially for older residents. Anyone who wishes to be a sponsor can complete the online sponsorship application form here. Those who have questions can reach out to Aryn Banks, who oversees the program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.