Thank you !

Pour your egg nog or your coffee, try as we may, this won't be short!

What a week this has been!  Thank you to all who generously and kindly supported the Adopt A Family Program with time, energy and donations of gifts, gift cards and cash.

In the end, Batavia United Way Sponsors adopted 88 families with an additional 8-10 being adopted by Batavia Public Schools Staff. This is over 225 kids from all but one Batavia school. The Batavia Mothers Club single handedly adopted 35 of these kids!  If we tried to list all the support, we would surely miss someone. This was truly an exhibition of the true meaning of Christmas and feeling of Community.

On Monday, Louise White Elementary hosted the "Gift drop off," providing us with space to sort, organize, box, and stack gifts by family and by school. EnthusiasticVolunteers hustled to build the 150 boxes donated by Batavia Container, cart packages from Sponsors car trunks to the cafeteria and manage every task that was requested of them. They were fueled by cookies provided by Park District staff as were the Sponsors who were dropping off gifts. Thank you to this incredible group!

Tuesday a crew cross checked all the boxes against our list of families and added some bonus gifts from the pool of new items donated by people who dropped off bags of pj's, socks, stuffed animals, hats, mittens etc. Every kiddo in elementary and middle school also received a package of Reindeer Food that was supplied by a Girl Scout troop. We discovered one families gifts were missed (as happens with almost 300 pages of wish lists), so funds provided by Batavia Women in Business were used to purchase gifts from the wish lists of these 3 kids. We also added a few of the $500 in gift cards rallied by Batavia Youth Baseball. Here is a picture of just 1/4 of the room that contains gifts and stockings only. We utilized a second room for the 200 grocery bags.

Thursday from 9-5:30 the adopted families came in to pick up their gifts. In addition, they received incredible, filled stockings from the Batavia Woman's Club, the CHIP IN bags of non-perishables (those things that are not fun to buy- TP, laundry detergent etc) and .....a bag full of fresh produce and bread. The crew of CHIP IN women that packed those bags could not possibly put another ounce into them!  It was quite an impressive collection of potatoes, carrots, bananas, apples, oranges, bread and more. Last but not least, we received a donation of 175 boxes of cereal. Each family that was interested received 2 boxes of cereal.

We had some bread, bananas & cereal left over and about 2 dozen non-perishable bags. Batavia Public Schools staff loaded it up for us and delivered it to the Batavia Food Pantry and they were thrilled to have it! Every single item donated found a home with a family in need. These overstocks allowed this group to help people outside of the school system too.

Needless to say, many of the families were overwhelmed with gratitude. BPS staff including Dr. Lisa Hitchens, Lisa Palese, Amy Nelson, Sue Gillerlain, Dr. Kevin Skomer, Jenn Zorn and Susan Zidek & Dr. Brad Newkirk all took turns helping us pull and cart gifts, greet families and help them to their cars with their Christmas gifts and groceries. They too enjoyed Cookies while they waited and spoke with staff.

A Grandma arrived to pick up for her daughters' family and she said to Amy Nelson "you can't even imagine what this means to my family." Amy replied "I know you are going through a tough time" and the woman replied "and Christmas just makes it so much harder.....this changes everything."  There were many teary eyes that day!

Gifts were picked up on Thursday and messages to you, our Sponsors were coming in by Friday afternoon.........One Mom called the school and said she wanted to make tamales for her donor in January because she is so happy. Another said she is "desperately trying to find out who she can send a thank you to because the gifts picked for her children were so very perfect for them and she now, can't wait until Christmas." Any messages we receive will be forwarded to you!

Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and  the volume of gift cards donated (and funds donated to buy them!) almost all of our families received a dinner out and a minimum of 70 kids will be going to the movies. Many others will enjoy bowling & skating at Funway. Well done!

We have one gentleman, Jeremy, still shopping ...for leggings, make up and sweaters!  There was a last minute plea for gifts for 2 special girls that came in on our very last day. Our dedicated school district staff felt there was a strong need here and Jeremy, who came to us late in the game was contacted and simply said " I'm in!" They will get gifts delivered next week.  

In closing, I wanted to add a special thank you to  Lisa Palese, Amy Nelson and each Social Worker, Counselor and School Secretary that touched this project. Thank you for making the 12th year of this project possible and for the heart you put into it. It is simply hard to fathom that all school districts are like ours! 

Thank you Louise White for hosting this project and for your "patient, can do, no problem attitude." We are so fortunate to have all of you working with our kids and as neighbors in our community.

On behalf of Batavia United Way, have a very Merry Christmas, and a blessed New Year!

Melinda Kintz