By Mari Smith
“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” Dr. Suess and the Grinch must have been watching how all of the contributions to the South County Community Services’ (SCCS) holiday donations have arrived. It is through the enormous generosity of those in Vicksburg, as well as surrounding areas, that each and every one of the current holiday collection efforts are becoming a success to help those in need. No fluffy packaging, but simple generosity from the heart at this high-need time of year.
Danna Downing, SCCS director, states that it is the agency’s goal this year to make better matches to the specific needs of recipients. After speaking to past recipients about what the agency was doing right and what they could improve on, SCCS has worked hard towards achieving this important goal. One way is by giving recipients options on when they can receive their donations and schedule their celebrations, as well as having two children’s parties instead of just one. These changes mean less time standing in long lines, as well as flexibility for recipients when transportation can be an issue.
Downing indicated that, at this time, they are planning for approximately the same number of families served. Although the economy is reported to be improving, SCCS has not seen the need go down, but they have found different people are affected in different ways thereby finding themselves in need of the agency’s services. She stated that they have heard from past recipients who no longer need services, but now want to adopt a family of their own. Downing also stated that some of her best volunteers are past gift recipients.
Downing praised the people of Vicksburg for all they do to make this program a success. She indicated that the community never fails when there is a need, and that it truly is “. . . love in action.” They even have people that were residents in the past and regular contributors that still send donations even though they no longer live in the area. She further praised the efforts of churches not only in Vicksburg, but Portage as well for their generous support, as well as Meijer stores as part of their Simply Giving program.
SCCS will continue to take donations for the Tree of Life ornaments probably beyond Christmas. Hand-crafted ornaments for the tree in honor of someone or a pet range from $10 – $100 and can be ordered from SCCS from 8:30-4:30 weekdays (and until 6:30 on Wednesdays). Some people have even purchased ornaments in honor of a recipient for the efforts they make during difficult times. Dr. Lloyd Appell is personally inscribing on each of the ornaments. The Cookie Walk and Tree Lighting will take place on Friday, December 6 from 6-9 p.m. in downtown Vicksburg, with Cookie Walk bags for sale before the event for $5, or $7 the evening of the event in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce membership.
Downing reminds the community that although the holiday season is the time of highest need, the needs continue throughout the year. Sometimes donations get low and SCCS has to expend additional funds during lean donation times. It is also one of her goals to connect people who have things they no longer need to give those items that might otherwise be disposed of. She expressed that some people are throwing away things that others in our community can use, and she would like to find a way to join the two. Residents can contact the agency at 649-2901 year-round to check on current needs.