With less than two weeks before Christmas, children all over the lake area are counting down till Santa arrives at their home. Unfortunately, not all families can afford to provide gifts and special treats for their family members this holiday.
That is where the Camden County Child Advocacy Council comes in. The CCCAC has been working since Oct. 1 gathering Christmas gifts and other donations for lake-area families. The "Christmas Is Sharing" program started 34 years ago and has received more than 350 applications for help from families this Christmas.
Out of the 350 families, about 100 of those still need to be adopted. The council receives applications from families all over the lake area. Families of all sizes are available for adoption in this program, many of which are single-parent homes according to organizers.
In 2012 alone, CCCAC coordinated the adoption of 334 families which included 977 children.
According to CCCAC Treasurer Rhonda Wilkening, they are in need of gifts for teenagers — anything from wallets, belts, hair products, deodorant, razors and cologne.
"The teenager items is what we run out of," Wilkening said.
The Child Advocacy Council does not operate "Christmas Is Sharing" alone. The Council works alongside Ozark Community Elks, the Kiwanis of the Ozark Coast, Camdenton Rotary, Crown Dental, the Camdenton Lions Club, the VFW Auxiliary, local banks, schools, churches and many other organizations and individuals.
Organizers say that adopting a family is fairly simple. Recipient request forms with the name or names of families are sent upon request to those wishing to adopt or people may stop by the Child Advocacy Thrift Store at 77 Dawson Road in Camdenton during store hours, Tuesday through Saturday, and pick out a family to adopt. Forms include gift and food requests. CCCAC forms ask that requests be reasonable and include whether or not a food basket is needed. Suggested items for the food baskets range from food specifically for a holiday dinner including ham, potatoes, pie and etc. to basics like peanut butter, soups or canned meat to help fill their pantry.
If you would like to adopt a family, call Inez Killam, chairman of the "Christmas Is Sharing" program at 573-348-3822 or call Monica Long at the Child Advocacy's Thrift Store at 573-346-0003 between the hours of 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. If one does not wish to adopt any specific family, but wish to donate food, clothing or toys to the "Christmas Is Sharing" Program, contact the CCCAC by phone at 573-346-0003 or by email at email@example.com. Tax-deductible monetary donations can be mailed to Camden County Child Advocacy Council, PO Box 1002, Camdenton, MO 65020.
This weekend the Council will be participating in the "Fill the Truck" program at Walmart in Camdenton. Volunteers from CCCAC and friends along with students from Camdenton
Page 2 of 2 - High School will be collecting items to give to children in Camden County this Christmas.
Tips to donating...
• Deliver your own gifts. Not only do you get to connect with the people you're helping, but it helps CCCAC focus on those that they buy for and must deliver to.
• If you need CCCAC to deliver the gift on your behalf or have it picked up at the Thrift Store, don't wrap it. The council must see the gift first and they will then put it in a gift bag. In many cases, the volunteers spend hours unwrapping presents and re-bagging them.
• Offer your services. If you can't donate money or buy presents — or even if you can — volunteer to help wrap and distribute presents. The center has limited volunteers, but a growing number of recipients.
• Donate your old clothes and household items to the CCCAC Thrift Store, located at 77 Dawson Road in Camdenton, rather than throwing them away. The store's proceeds allow the center to stay in the business of helping people.