Staff members at South County Community Services (SCCS) are fond of saying it’s Christmas all year around at their agency. That’s because they believe that whenever there is someone to listen and help a family in need, it is a lot like Christmas. Whenever SCCS staff, volunteers and donors remember others with a gift of time and resources, it ensures the spirit of Christmas is there when it is most needed.
A third of the people who live in the South County are either living in poverty or near it in so-called “ALICE” households–asset limited, income constrained, and employed. For these households, an car repairs, going back to school, illness, and holiday costs create hard-to-manage challenges.
SCCS is a United Way agency with a mission to help families manage these times and support them as they work to move their families forward. It takes an investment of about $20,000 to serve approximately 500 people each year during the holidays. With the generosity of the community in full throttle, the agency usually raises another $10,000 to add to its emergency assistance funding. This money can be matched with family resources and funds from other agencies to keep homes heated and lighted during the winter months. It can cover other expenses that hit hard during the rest of the year.
Community donations help to underwrite holiday food boxes, household bags, gifting and family-friendly parties with Santa. Family adoptions, in partnership with individuals and groups, make holidays a little brighter for over 100 families. Area faith groups do the bulk of the adoptions, but there are always opportunities for individual families and groups to adopt a needy family. Volunteers to help assemble Santa bags and household bags are critical to the holiday operations at SCCS. And volunteers also are needed to help make the two holiday celebrations festive.
In addition, anyone who wishes to honor a loved one during the holidays may participate in the annual Tree of Life project. All the donations from Tree of Life are used to support the year-long emergency assistance program. Anyone interested in supporting these efforts may call 269-649-2901 for more information.