This holiday season, a Promenade 23 space formerly home to Bank of America will once again be humming: with dozens of volunteers and thousands of children and their families.
Through the Seattle YWCA’s annual Adopt-A-Family (AAF) program, low-income and homeless families will be visiting on Dec. 15 to pick up gift bags filled with hand-picked presents for each child, plus a grocery store gift card for parents valued at $50 or more for a special holiday meal.
Last year, the YWCA’s AAF event served 1,100 families and 2,700 kids. This year’s turnout is expected to be even larger, with attendees invited to take a photo with Santa on the same day that families pick up gifts.
Vulcan has volunteered the suite to the YWCA rent-free for the coming winter months and beyond. This is the fourth consecutive year that Vulcan has made one of its vacant spaces available to the Seattle YWCA, part of its longstanding commitment to supporting the YWCA’s mission in the community.
“This empty place is filled with love from strangers. You won’t believe how much space these bags take up,” says YWCA divisional resources coordinator Nichelle Hilton, who heads the AAF program and matches sponsors with families. “It’s a kind of warmth that fills you for the year. Clients come and pick up their gifts and they leave in tears.”
Thanks to generous sponsors, families will feel the joy and magic of the holidays at a time when a growing number are living in shelters and transitional housing. The families who sign up to receive holiday assistance are current YWCA clients, living in YWCA shelters, fleeing domestic violence or in young-parent units. Some are in transitional housing, and housing for veterans with PTSD. These families are on the road to self-sufficiency and are receiving assistance with job training, housing, counseling and other services.
Individual or group sponsors interested in the AAF program are matched with a family, after which they receive information about each child and parent, including first names, ages, clothing sizes and gift ideas. They then shop for the families assigned to them, which range in size from two to 10 or more people.
The aim is to have all families adopted by Nov. 25, with wrapped gifts dropped off between Dec. 10 and Dec. 13. Families who arrive at a YWCA shelter after Dec. 10 will have their own dedicated toy drive from Dec. 19-21 with as many as 500 children expected.
For more information on how to sponsor a family, contact Nichelle at [email protected].
Already this fall, the YWCA has used the space to provide families with pumpkin-carving kits and candy for trick-or-treating, and for a Thanksgiving meal drive. Plans for 2017 include a January coat drive and two children’s gift basket-making events for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.