It's that time of year when most homes have their Christmas tree up, planted in the middle of presents — gifts children wake up to on Christmas day in the hopes of finding at least one toy they've requested from Santa — and the streets are filled with boys and girls riding their new bikes while ovens inside the home are cooking a turkey to serve a warm holiday meal.
It's that time of year when most homes have their Christmas tree up, planted in the middle of presents — gifts children wake up to on Christmas day in the hopes of finding at least one toy they've requested from Santa — and the streets are filled with boys and girls riding their new bikes while ovens inside the home are cooking a turkey to serve a warm holiday meal. Unfortunately, the reality is that not all homes in Dodge City depict a scene from a jolly holiday movie. The Adopt A Family program can attest to there being many homes without Christmas trees due to financial hardships, and even more heart-rending, homes with no holiday meal. That's where they decided to step in seven years ago. While they can't help every family in need, the founders of the program decided they can help some and that's exactly what they have done. For the eighth year, the program is in preparations for their annual holiday-meal delivery. Every year the program works with Dillons, which helps discount meals, so that a boxed meal can make it into the home of at least 30 to 40 families. A boxed meal for a family of two to four, includes a small turkey, half a ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing, pie, and another dessert of some sort. A big box meant for family of eight to ten people, includes similar items except with a whole turkey and two pies. According to founder, Tim Trent, the meals retail over $2,500 but through monetary donations, the help they receive from Dillons, and community involvement, they are able to purchase meals each year and as the program has evolved they found themselves helping with a lot more than food. Upon making meal deliveries, Trent said he discovered families in need of other vital necessities, so the Santa and elves of Dodge City began helping in other ways. "Last year when we delivered a meal to a lady's home, she broke down crying," Trent said. "She couldn't pay her gas bill, she had broken her leg and was unable to work. She told us she was having severe financial issues and felt like everything was coming down on her at once. We were able to give her money from our funds to get her gas back on." Trent has also encountered situations where a woman's husband was deployed, leaving her to provide for her family, a woman who just wanted someone to talk to, and the single father of three whose daughter's best gift was a warm meal. "He was a single father of three…their home was in disarray," program coordinator Bonnie Gobin said. "When we took the food inside the home the little girls were so grateful and so excited they took the food from us, went to warm it up and started eating right away." But perhaps the most memorable story Trent has encountered is the story of a 17-year-old girl who was left to care for her three siblings including a child of her own after the sudden death of her mother and after being granted an emancipation she pursued in order to keep her family together. The teenager faced countless struggles. On the list was a pressing need for a washer and dryer. With the help of a big donor and other contributors, including individuals who volunteered to deliver the appliances, a washer and dryer was delivered on Christmas Day. "It was truly an entire community effort," Trent said. And then there’s the story of a family whose pipes had frozen underneath their trailer. Trent's brother helped thaw the pipes and helped close holes outside of the trailer. "We talked to two little boys in that home and they told us Santa wasn't coming to their house," Trent said. "One said he wanted a bicycle and the other wanted a computer — we were able to get that for them and delivered it on Christmas Eve." Program seeing shortfalls this year Last year, Adopt A Family took on 35 families who were nominated by school counselors and individuals in the community, some of the families being 10 people in size. If families exceed budget, Trent says the program finds a way. No family is left behind. "We kind of take it on with faith," Trent said. "We hope everything will be covered; if it doesn't we go beating on doors." According to Trent, the number of families this year will match last year's however, thus far, donations do not. The order for meals had to be placed Wednesday in order for them to be delivered in time and because of lack of funds, Trent has covered the shortfall in hopes of more donations. In years prior, funds left over after the purchase of meals have been used to purchase other items for families in desperate situations, something Trent says he is still hopeful will happen this year if they can raise enough funds. While Trent's and Gobin's strong faith has successfully driven the program, their willingness to give up their own family time during the holidays has also been pivotal to the program's success. Trent and Gobin pick up the meals Christmas even morning to have them all delivered by the afternoon so families can enjoy a nice meal for dinner time. If you would like to make a donation please call Tim Trent at (620) 225-6733 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.