New Families Adopted This Year for Christmas
The Adopt-A-Family program serves Rhode Island families in need.
Audrey Field has worked with donors for years to make sure that families in the East Bay have gifts for Christmas.
But this was the first year she saw a longtime donor became a recipient, she said.
One family used to donate to the Adopt-A-Family program as part of a neighborhood, she said. But the husband had lost a well-paying job, the family's house was being foreclosed on and they couldn't afford Christmas gifts, she said.
So this year, that family was one of the program's more than 100 that received gifts this season, said Field, executive director of East Bay RSVP, FGP and Americorps.
People they serve sometimes find themselves in situations they never would have anticipated, she said.
"For some families, it's a dignity issue," Field said. "They've never been in this position before."
Some families only accept the gifts because they don't want to tell their children that Santa couldn't find them this year, she said.
The program started out with businesses originally assisting families, Field said. Citizens Bank is a longtime donor and other banks, such as Bank of America, First Fed and Bank Rhode Island also participate.
Community groups like the Girl Scouts, church members, the East Bay Moms' Club and individual neighborhoods have also pitched in to help provide gifts for families.
The community involvement doesn't stop at the donors, Field said. St. Mark's Episcopal Church in East Providence has long donated space as a storage location for the program.
This year in East Providence, the program assisted a woman who had requested a crib. Donors provided a crib, changing table and dresser, Field said.
The woman wrote a thank you note that pointed out how the donors had reflected the spirit of Christmas, Field said.
Paraphrasing the woman's note, Field said: "Here was a baby who had no place to sleep, and they had provided a place for this baby to sleep."
In the case of another East Providence family, program organizers had heard about a single mother with three children who had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The woman had been told that she needed to get her affairs in order. She was working to help her children adjust to living with their father.
"We really tried to make sure it was going to be a nice, memorable Christmas for that family," Field said.