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Adopt-a-Family program needs help

Posted at 3:38 PM, Dec 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-09 15:38:34-05

JACKSON, Mich. (WSYM) - "Toys for Tots" isn't the only way to help contribute this holiday season in Mid-Michigan.
FOX 47's Alani Letang talked with a woman whose program that helps those in need.

That woman is Kate Lambert Lee. She runs an "Adopt-a-Family" program and is the Communications Manager at the Community Action Agency in Jackson. And she is running short on volunteers to adopt one of the many families in the community. She told Letang this is about more than just putting a new toy under the Christmas tree.

"You might see dishes, utensils, vacuum, cleaning supplies, it's not like anyone is asking to go to Disney World or a car, they're basically the needs," said Kate.

The Community Action Agency works to help families get through emergency situations and to build self-sufficiency.
Kate said all adoptions are personalized to make sure a family is getting what they need to be independent. 
"Not everybody can adopt a large family, and some people might be able to, and then we try to find them the best match," said Kate.

Finding a match is harder than ever now. One of the reasons, Kate said, is the shortage of affordable housing. When a person/family cannot find a housing that is suitable for their housing voucher, they risk the chance of losing it, Kate told Letang. Kate also said she still has more than 40 families in her community that still need adopting this holiday season.

"The need is so great it's probably three times what it was three years ago, we are having a lot more people that are in the shelter, on the streets so that's a huge need," said Kate.

Kate's own family was adopted through Salvation Army years ago in Ypsilanti, located in Washtenaw County. She told us that's the only way she was able to have Christmas with her husband and two daughters.

"They got us toys and a meal, and those were the only toys that we were able to give them that year," said Kate.

That sparked her idea to start the "Adopt-a-Family" program at her job. She said there's a stigma that surrounds people who are experiencing homelessness, or in need, and who can't afford to buy toys or even basic necessities for their children. "When you are unable to do that, you can be left feeling like a failure and be told that it was your choice. We never know what's going on in someone's life" said Kate.

Kate hopes she can convince the community to pitch in. And not just for the holidays. "That's the biggest thing is to let people know that this doesn't define you and it doesn't have to be forever, and by someone helping out a family it could mean the difference from them being successful or not," said Kate.

There's no set cost to adopt a family. It all comes down to how much volunteers can afford to spend.