Anchor House encourages people to participate in Adopt a Family at Christmas

Whether it’s a child receiving a puzzle or a parent getting some toiletries, they will value the gift.

Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry in Seymour strives to help homeless families get back on their feet so they can move forward in life.

The nonprofit organization has once again reached out to the community to help with the Adopt a Family at Christmas program, which has taken place for about eight years. Private donors and businesses support the effort by buying and wrapping gifts requested by Anchor House clients.

Executive Director Megan Cherry said there are currently six families living at Anchor House. They usually sponsor at least 10 families, including the parents, for the gift program, so they reach out to past families who have stayed there, too.

Various local businesses, organizations, churches and individuals sponsor the program.

“Once a donor reaches out to help, we have each family fill out an information sheet with sizes and interests,” Cherry said. “This information is passed along to a donor anonymously, as we do not share the identity of the client.”

From there, the donors purchase the gifts, wrap them and bring them back a few days before Christmas.

“We do have the families write a thank-you card, and we send that to the donor,” Cherry said. “We serve as the middleman between the donor and family to ensure privacy.”

She said they could not provide Christmas for all of the families without the help of their donors and sponsors.

“They are so generous and work so hard to make sure our families have an amazing Christmas,” Cherry said. “We are so grateful, as are the families we serve. If anyone is interested in adopting a family for Christmas, they just need to reach out to us for more information.”

Drew Carpenter, manager at Anytime Fitness in Seymour, said they have participated in the program about seven or eight years.

He said Anchor House will give them Christmas lists from several people. Then the items from those wish lists will be written on sticky notes and placed on the office window.

“After we put our Christmas tree up here, we’ll take those notes and paperclip them to the tree like an ornament,” Carpenter said. “Then our members come in and they can take one and go buy the gift and bring it in, either wrapped or if it’s unwrapped, we’ll wrap it. Then we’ll deliver it all to Anchor House maybe a couple of days before Christmas.”

Carpenter said he thinks the program is special because it lets people know someone cares about them.

“Our members get excited about participating in this because they like to do things to help somebody,” he said. “We encourage them to participate and then bring the paper back that has the item listed on it along with the gift so we’ll know that we’ve got the right things.”

He said this is something the members look forward to each year, and the fitness club is always looking for ways to contribute to the community and be involved.

“If you’re part of the community, I think everybody should try to give back to their community and that’s a need,” Carpenter said. “People are spending the holiday where it’s not their best situation maybe, but having people care about them and making sure they’re having a good Christmas and the kids are having a good Christmas, that’s bringing joy to people.”

Rachel Tillberry of Cummins Seymour Engine Plant said Christmas has always been her favorite time of year, so she likes helping with Anchor House’s gift program.

“I absolutely love spending the holidays with my family. I want to try to provide support to others so they can create the same special memories,” Tillberry said. “I have been involved in this program for a number of years, and it has become my favorite part of the holiday season.”

Lindsay Sarver, fund development director for Anchor House, said she wants to thank all of the people who are donating to the program this year and welcomes any new sponsors who would like to be involved in the program to help families.