In our November and December issues, we ran a listing of ways (Helping Hands) our readers could help local nonprofits and government agencies that work to enrich the lives of those less fortunate in our community. You — our hometown heroes — responded in a powerful way. Read on to see the good news about how you and your neighbors made a difference during the holiday season, as well as ways you can help throughout the year.
The Center for Family Resources
From Melanie Kagan, CEO
We can’t do what we do without the community support we receive, not just during Thanksgiving, but all year long. This is just one example of how incredibly generous people are, and we want them to know their donations are incredibly impactful and critical to supporting the needs of the clients and families we serve.
We had 263 volunteers show up the week of Thanksgiving to help on-site with packing, sorting and distributing. Our volunteers logged more than 800 hours that week.
We had an excellent donation result, with 10,000 pounds of food being brought back to our pantry to help with requests the rest of the year. Our totals were:
- 793 boxes of food distributed (valued at $55,510)
- 12 boxes of peanut butter
- 660 loaves of bread
- 1,000 packs (28 boxes) of macaroni and cheese
- 200 boxes of miscellaneous food taken to the food pantry (valued at $17,000)
- $76,441 worth of food donated to Thanks for Giving
- 816 gift cards worth $10,870
- 345 boxes picked up by registered families
- 25 boxes given to LiveSafe Resources
- 25 boxes given to Highland Rivers
- 150 boxes given to Cobb Senior Services
- 40 boxes given to Center for Children and Young Adults
- Eight boxes given to a senior-living community
- 140 boxes plus three cases of macaroni and cheese given to Helping Hands Paulding
- 28 boxes given to Cole Street Baptist Church
- Three boxes given to Simple Needs GA
- 14 boxes of miscellaneous food given to The Porch Marietta
- Nine boxes of miscellaneous kid-friendly items sent to Kennesaw State University food pantry
For 2023, we are excited to announce our short-term housing program has expanded from five apartments to 12 apartments that will house more than 60 families this year. The CFR has a strong commitment to families with children to try to avoid placing them in congregate shelters when possible. Our families enter short-term housing with very little, so when a family moves in, we provide many basic items, such as new sheets, towels and kitchen items. We are seeking donations for our housing closet. Our Amazon wish list can be found at https://amzn.to/3FcKRpz.
Acworth Police Department Christmas Shoppe
From Cpl. Eric Mistretta
Each year, we have multiple volunteers assist us from the Acworth Public Safety Cadet Program, the local community and police department family members.
The number of gifts is hard to gauge, but we did receive more donations than in the previous year. We were able to partner with businesses throughout the city and neighboring counties to assist with collecting toys. With our toy drive, we were able to serve many local families who would not have been able to provide Christmas gifts for their children without our Toy Shoppe. We also were able to provide each family with a $100 gift card to help them purchase their holiday meal.
Without the support from our community, we wouldn’t be as successful as we’ve been at providing resources to families around the holidays. If anyone is interested in making a donation to the Acworth Police Community Foundation, they can contact the police department for more information. The funds donated to the foundation support many outreach programs, including our toy drive, Police Ambassador Camp and the Acworth Public Safety Cadets, just to name a few. The foundation would like to raise at least $50,000 this year to help community outreach programs.
We also have a tax credit donation option with our foundation, which helps supplement the police department with resources and equipment. We have set a goal to raise at least $250,000 this year from these donations. For more information, please contact the Acworth Police Department.
The Hope Box
From Sarah Koeppen, CEO and founder
During the holidays, we held a Mommy Mart and a baby shower for mothers and infants in need. We had such a need for gift cards, baby diapers, formula, cars seats, clothing and more. We are so grateful for all of the volunteers and staff that helped meet the needs of so many. In 2023, continued financial partners, gift cards, baby items and volunteers are needed.
Cobb Senior Services
From Kathy Lathem, strategic partnerships manager
We provided Christmas gifts to 150 of our clients. We continue to accept financial donations for Meals on Wheels.
Cobb Christmas Stuff-a-Bus
From Mark Riggans, chairman
We didn’t have a shortage of volunteers this past year. Our Christmas giveaway always has been well-supported by the community.
We served 406 families — 1,200 children.
Our biggest need is funding. We gave away every toy we had this past year, so we will need to purchase toys in bulk to supplement our toy drive.
Goshen Valley Foundation
From Caitlin Brunson, marketing and community engagement coordinator
We had incredible support from the community during the holidays. Woodstock City Church sent more than 600 volunteers to help with landscaping, decorating for Christmas and wrapping hundreds of gifts for the boys at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.
We saw huge support from the community at large, helping us to purchase gifts off our Amazon wish lists for the 117 foster kids at Goshen during the holidays. The community rallies around our kids at Christmas, and we truly couldn’t do it without its support. We are so grateful to everyone who touched our kids’ lives!
Our 2023 needs are focused around a big need for foster parents in Cherokee and Cobb counties. At Goshen Homes, we license, train and recruit foster parents to work with sibling groups in foster care. That’s because more than 75% of siblings in foster care are separated, and we believe siblings are better together. If you or someone you know might be interested in becoming a foster parent or getting involved at Goshen Homes, visit fosterwithgoshen.org to download the fostering guide.
Simple Needs GA
From Brenda Rhodes, founder
We had an increase in the number of volunteers; some were directly because of your publications, so thank you! We were able to help more children this past Christmas than in previous years. Overall, we provided gifts (plus board games, hats, gloves and scarves) for 307 kids in 108 families. Each mom and/or dad also received a Walmart gift card.
And some of the volunteers who helped at Christmastime have returned to help us! We’re hoping a few will become regulars, including one who read about us in Around Kennesaw.
Now, our greatest need is for gently used mattresses/box springs/beds as well as other essential furniture and kitchen/bed/bath items. We also need items that we give to our birthday children. We update this list about once a week with our most-needed items: https://simpleneedsgablog.com/drives.
Volunteers who would like to become regulars by volunteering on Saturdays once or twice a month are needed. And we need volunteers with pickup trucks and/or those who are willing to pick up furniture donations and deliver to our clients.
Jerry Worthan Memorial Christmas Fund
From Officer David Buchanan, Office of Community Engagement
Kennesaw Police Department had a fantastic turnout at events this past holiday season, along with numerous residents and businesses eager to offer their stores, time and/or money. We held a Dinner with Santa event at Copeland’s, had nine businesses in the community place toy donation bins in their store fronts, received a large monetary donation from the Kennesaw Business Association and received a large toy donation from the Ladies of Legacy Park. The support received was incredible and makes the Jerry Worthan Memorial Christmas Fund simple and fulfilling, while ensuring every child in Kennesaw can experience the joys of Christmas.
The Christmas fund received hundreds of new toys, and more than $10,000 was raised for upcoming years. The program provided Christmas gifts, including toys, clothing and shoes, for 33 children in the Kennesaw community.
We will start accepting applications and toy donations in November for Christmas 2023. We accept monetary donations for the program all year.
North Georgia Angel House
From Susan Worsley, executive director and CEO
The influx of volunteers during the holiday season was heartwarming. We had sponsors for each of our girls. All of their needs were met with each item they asked for and a whole lot more.
Our friends and neighbors donated gift cards to have a supply ready when we accept new girls in our home, to purchase clothing and incidentals. One of our neighbors donated a gift card to each of the employees as a thank you for their hard work. It was unexpected and greatly appreciated.
We had sponsors for the children of our girls who come home every year for the Home for the Holidays meal. This year, volunteers donated, catered and served dinner to almost 100 former children, spouses and partners so we could spend time visiting with our former youth.
Volunteers helped decorate the home, inventory gifts and meet the needs of our kids during the most challenging time of the year. In a world where the news is filled with crimes and sad stories, we are reminded our community is filled with many kind, giving and supportive individuals who work tirelessly to help us meet the needs of our girls. Our investment in others is more than a job; it’s a ministry. We thank God every day for the good in our community.
Our needs going into 2023 include landscaping, siding, remodeling a building for our newly established school, drying in a space for a “she shed,” adding 10 more single-occupancy apartments to our campus and building a reception center at the entrance of our campus. Please let me know if you have time, talent or resources to lend a hand. We love our volunteers.
From Katy Ruth Camp, director of marketing and public relations
Generally, we see about a 20% to 25% increase in the number of volunteers who serve during the holiday season. Not only do people want to give back more during the holidays, but events and programs like the Gobble Jog, our toy shops and holiday meals at the MUST Hope House inspire more people to give back.
Community support makes everything we do possible. Our MUST team could not begin to serve the 62,000 we now are serving annually without volunteers.
We always are working hard to serve more of our neighbors in need. Donations help provide food, housing, jobs, health care and clothing, plus a host of other resources like toiletries, diapers, cold-weather shelter and summer lunches for hungry children.
In 2023, our needs include:
- More food for the MUST Mobile Pantry.
- More volunteers to help serve more clients at every location.
- Volunteers to work in our new MUST Marketplace thrift store, opening in east Cobb this month.
- Support for the future health care clinic being established in MUST’s new facility on Highway 41.