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DHR seeks help with ‘overwhelming’ need this Christmas

Move beyond the statistics on the computer screen and look at the human stories. “The most wonderful time of the year” is a most difficult one for many local families who are struggling to make ends meet in a still-sluggish economy.

Just ask April Lowery of the Butler County Department of Human Resources.

“It’s almost overwhelming,” she said on Friday as she looked over the stacks of applications for the department’s annual Community Christmas Program.

“Last year we had 350-ish applications. We stopped taking them today and I easily have 50 more I haven’t gone through yet. That’s means we are pushing 600 applications this year,” Lowery said.

So far, she says she has only had to deny a few applications due to income guidelines or age of the children.

“Most people are eligible. A lot of these are the working poor, low-income, and the economy is just killing them. Food stamp cases are way up. There are people who want to work and find short-term employment, but that’s it. It’s hard,” Lowery said.

And with more families in need of assistance than ever, DHR is reaching out to the community for assistance. Here are some ways to help:

*Sponsorship

“We have several churches and civic organizations that already sponsor children or families, but we want the public to know individuals and families can also serve as sponsors,” Lowery said.

DHR matches up the sponsor with a child or family, and the sponsor then shops for and purchases gifts, which are delivered to the family by the sponsor or by DHR. All gifts sponsors don’t plan to deliver themselves are asked to be returned for distribution by Dec. 13.

“Sponsors can bring the gifts to the old Wickes Building in front of Southside Baptist Church between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 13, or drop them by our office prior to that date,” Lowery said.

*Financial Contribution

“For those kids who don’t get assigned to an organization or individual sponsor, we will do the shopping,” Lowery said. “So any and all financial donations will be greatly appreciated.” Monetary contributions are requested by Dec. 10, so DHR will have a better idea of how much money is available for the project.

*Donating toys/clothes

“We will happily take toys, games, dolls, stuffed animals and other items and children’s clothes in different sizes, and see they are assigned to the children. If you have such items to share but can’t be a sponsor, we are not turning anything away,” said Lowery. “However much or little you have to share, it will be appreciated.”

For more information about DHR’s Community Christmas Program, contact April Lowery or Lisa Butts at 382-4400.