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ECHO seeks contributors for Adopt-a-Family program

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
November 3, 2011
— As the economy continues to sputter and the holidays rapidly approach, charitable groups in the area struggle to help those in need get some “happy” for their holidays.

At ECHO, 65 S. High St., Janesville, this time of year means a lot of work goes into the Adopt-A-Family program. The initiative pairs sponsors throughout the community with families unable to provide gifts at Christmas.


Jessica Schafer, client advocate and office manager at ECHO, said sponsors range from businesses to youth groups to private individuals. Those in need file requests with ECHO, which in turn finds sponsors best suited to help that family.


Schafer explained how the program works:


Q: How does a needy family get involved in the program?
A: Families can visit ECHO and fill out a list of gift requests. Families create a wish list where each person can request five pieces of clothing, five fun items plus five household items that benefit everybody in the household.
Q: Once a sponsor expresses interest in the program, what happens next?
A: Schafer finds a family that best fits that sponsor. The sponsor then receives the family’s gift request list so he/she/they can shop for items. Sponsors then have the choice of delivering the items directly to the family or dropping them off at ECHO.
Q: How much money is the donor expected to spend?
A: On average, the minimum spent on each person has been $50, depending on the group. ECHO asks that sponsors buy at least two items per family member, and that they spend the same amount on each person.
Q: How many sponsors are needed?
A: At press time, 66 families had been adopted. Nearly 100 families were adopted in 2010, and Schafer expects more will seek help this year. Schafer also said funding is desperately needed for Adopt-A-Family’s toy program.
Q: How soon must a sponsor decide if he/she/they want to adopt a family?
A: Sponsors must sign up with ECHO by Friday, Nov. 18. To do so, call Schafer at (608) 754-5333 or stop in at the ECHO office.
Q: What is the deadline for gift delivery?
A: For those planning to drop purchases off at ECHO, deadline is Monday, Dec. 12. Those planning to delivery directly to families can do so until Tuesday, Dec. 20.
Q: How often is a family eligible for the Adopt-a-Family program?
A: Because ECHO provides help to more than 3,000 families annually, eligibility is once every three years.

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