A few years ago some friends and I adopted a family for the holidays from the organization Beyond Shelter. Each person bought a present for one family member, which consisted of a mother and her 3 children. We never found out her or her kids’ names because she was on the run from her abusive husband. She had escaped one night with her kids and as much as she could carry. We just knew her age and age of the children, including a list of things she really needed.
It was a great feeling helping out a woman in a horrible situation. My friends and I made sure to explain to our kids why we were buying toys that wouldn’t end up under our own trees. They really got into it and picked out some nice presents. We bought the mother things she really needed like pots and pans, but also a nice pair of earrings and a warm jacket. I hope we made her holidays a little special in spite of her circumstances.
I love this program so much I really wanted to do it again this year. I called up Beyond Shelter, but instead of information about this feel-good program I got some bad news and a reality check.
The Adopt-a-Family program was cancelled this year so the organization can take care of more pressing needs for families.
Beyond Shelter is undergoing an emergency campaign to help people get into housing. The financial crisis has been devastating for families and they need more than just presents under the tree.
“Where are they going to put their gifts if they don’t have a roof over their heads?” said Beyond Shelter’s Director of Community Relations and Private Donors, Maxine Moshay.
“We need to help families year round not just at the holidays,” she said. “This has been a very difficult year for everyone.”
Beyond Shelter is a non-profit that works to help the homeless get housing, acquire life skills, find work, and receive help with childcare. They used to mostly serve single mothers, but because of the financial crisis they are seeing single dads, entire families, and aunts and uncles and grandparents who have been called upon to care for children when they don’t have the resources.
“We have people who have never experienced financial problems being evicted,” she said. They have nowhere to go and no one to help them.
“We do what we can,” Moshay said. They provide hotel vouchers for families that have been evicted and try to get them into transitional housing. But there are so many more people that need help this year.
Beyond Shelter is trying to help, but it needs money. Donating cash might not be as fun as buying gifts for a mom on the run, but it’s important right now.
For more information about how you can help Beyond Shelter or to donate to the annual toy drive visit the website. Beyond Shelter also has a gift registry where you can sign up to buy essentials for families who are moving into apartments, but have no furnishings, no dishes, no drapes.