NEWTOWN, Ohio -- The Inter Parish Ministry in Newtown works year-round to help families in eastern Hamilton County and Clermont County with basic food and clothing needs but at Christmas, the need for donations and volunteers grows.
This year the organization plans to help the 325 families who have asked for assistance by providing gifts for each member, a turkey and $25 Kroger gift card for their holiday meal.
The coordination process to pull that off is complicated, but with a dedicated group of volunteers, the organization succeeds each year.
“There is such an emotional response that occurs with both the volunteer workers as well as those who are receiving,” said Gail Koford, development director.
Koford explained that they are interdenominational and partner with churches in the area to meet the needs of their families.
“So many of the families ask for socks, underwear, sheets and shower supplies, all very simple things,” said Koford. “These gifts are fulfilling basic needs.”
On Dec. 3, the organization opened their annual Toy Store, where donated toys are displayed according to age groups and parents can come in and buy toys for just a few dollars.
This year they were able to supply toys, which have been collected from local toy drives, for more than 230 children. Each child will receive five to eight toys on Christmas morning.
“Most of the parents who come in have jobs and do work, but do not have extra money for Christmas presents,” said Koford. “We try to relieve some of their stress.”
The Adopt A Family gift distribution event takes place this year Dec. 17 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 8101 Beechmont Ave.
One of the Inter Parish volunteers is also a recipient of help. Selena Wilson of Cincinnati is a single mom looking for a job as a social worker who volunteers in the food pantry to pay back the help she has received.
“Last year we were ‘adopted’ and it was wonderful,” said Wilson. “My son had asked for a Bengal hoodie and I knew I couldn’t get it for him. So when it showed up under our tree, it was a complete surprise to him.”
Carol Rountree, volunteer coordinator for Inter Parish, works to ensure they have more than 60 volunteers for the day of the Adopt A Family event. But in the weeks prior, they have to use a rental truck and volunteers to go to each church and pick up the gifts, as well as the 350 frozen turkeys that get distributed. Meanwhile, a group of 12 or more go through the donations each day to make sure each item goes to the correct recipient.
“This is a fairly big operation,” said Rountree. “But we have a group of volunteers who do it each year and know what is going on.”
Marcy Franco has been a volunteer at Inter Parish for more than eight years. One of her jobs with the Adopt A Family program is to talk with the families before Christmas to find out what they need and want.
“People are thrilled that we are interested in what they would like to have,” she said. “They have never been given choices, they just have to take what they get. So when they ask for a bathrobe and I ask them what color they like, they just can’t believe it.”
Franco also works with the donations to make sure every person has a gift and they are grouped together for easy pick-up Dec. 17.
She said the Adopt A Family day is a wonderful day for the volunteers.
“It truly is better to give than to receive,” said Franco. “Bringing joy to someone else is what it is all about.”
How to help
Inter Parish Ministry is still in need of $25 Kroger gift cards for their families this year. These can be mailed to or dropped off at: Inter Parish Ministry, 3509 Debolt Road, Newtown, OH 45244-3419.
Call Gail Koford at 513-561-3932 for more information.