With the holiday season upon us, it's time once again for the Daily Statesman's Operation Santa (SOS) project to kick off.
The Statesman's annual holiday project offers help for families in need through community adoptions.
Families in need may enlist for assistance by completing an eligibility form to be considered for the project. Completion of the application does not guarantee adoption. A selection panel will judge priority needs and base adoption placement on a number of issues, including whether or not a family has been previously helped through the paper's Operation Santa Program. Priority will be given to families that have not been helped previously through SOS.
The needs of those families deemed eligible will be listed daily with each family given a number for identification purposes. Names are not revealed in the newspaper.
Each year, the Daily Statesman enlists the help of the community in adopting about 25 or more families in the county who are in need of assistance during the holiday season, especially to ensure that young children have a merry Christmas.
Some families may need help with utility bills or with groceries or household items in addition to gifts for youngsters.
The application asks families to specifically list household needs as well as wanted gift items.
The process to adopt a family listed in the SOS program is simple. Any individual, church group, civic group, business or club interested in adopting a family in need is asked to call 624-4545 or stop by the Statesman office at 133 S. Walnut in downtown Dexter. Those willing to help will be provided a family's application with all contact information.
Once a family is turned over to an adopting person or group, that family is taken off the list and the responsibility of delivering any gifts is in the hands of that person or persons adopting.
The Statesman will run a daily account of which families have been adopted and will periodically list additional families in need throughout the coming days prior to Christmas week.
The circumstances of families in need vary from one household to another. Some are single parent households. Others may be experiencing layoffs from work in this difficult economic period.
The Statesman also accepts cash donations for the SOS project. Those donations are dispersed to the most needy of families on the list to assist with outstanding bills or to provide groceries during the holidays.
The Daily Statesman has already received word from T.S. Middle School's Jr. Beta Club that they plan to adopt six families in need this Christmas. First State Bank has also stepped up and is awaiting a family in need.
Applications must be picked up in person at the Statesman office.
A list of needy families will be published on a daily basis beginning Tuesday.