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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498

Date: November 29, 2011


NEW CASTLE (Nov. 29, 2011) - The holidays are a natural time to think about others, especially those less fortunate. The Human Services Council, Inc., in partnership with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is seeking individuals, businesses and organizations to help provide holiday gifts for thousands of the state's children and seniors living in poverty or in low-income households.

Each holiday season, donors are anonymously matched to a senior or family of one or more children through the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program. Adopt-A-Family provides the donor with the age and gender of each child in the family and a brief description of the circumstances that led to their need for assistance. The donor then provides gift certificates for the head-of-household to use in buying holiday gifts. The recommended gift is $100 to $125 per child, with a gift certificate for the parent optional but thoughtful.

"The beauty of this program is that it is built on the ethic of reciprocity," said Dr. Anne Farley, director of the Division of State Service Centers. "Adopt-A-Family pairs individuals who are facing difficult times with someone else in the community who is able to share and willing to give. The program cultivates the ethic of giving back and of sharing, which at its core is the strength of us as a people and as a community."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.1 percent of Delawareans are living below the poverty line. In September, 143,000 Delawareans qualified for food stamps and more than 200,000 people are on Medicaid. Delaware's unemployment was 7.9 percent in October.

"This is a very difficult year for our Holiday Adopt-A-Family program given the growing poverty and unemployment rate," Farley added. "We rely on the generosity of individuals, businesses and organizations to volunteer or to donate by adopting a family or an elderly person. They provide a holiday to kids, families and the elderly who would otherwise go without. Without the support of the community, we would not have a program."

To "adopt" an individual or family in:

The deadline to "adopt" a family is Dec. 14, and all gift certificates/cards must be delivered to the Claymont Community Center or the Milford State Service Center by Dec. 22. Families who are adopted come to each location to receive their gifts.

In 2010, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped 4,058 Delawareans. Most of the beneficiaries are single-parent households, children and senior citizens. They are referred to Adopt-A-Family by a social worker or case manager through state agencies and human service nonprofit organizations.

Year-round, the Adopt-A-Family program aids families in crisis - those struggling with illness, homelessness, domestic violence, poverty or unemployment. The program, begun in 1973, is coordinated by the Division of State Service Centers in all three counties. Beyond the Holiday Adopt-A-Family, there also are times when a family is faced with a crisis that requires monetary assistance. Financial assistance is considered for each individual household up to a maximum amount for specified needs. For these times, Adopt-A-Family accepts financial donations. Checks can be made payable to: Human Services Council, Inc. and mailed to Adopt-A-Family, 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703 for New Castle County; or to Adopt-A-Family, 13 SW Front St., Milford, DE 19963 for Kent and Sussex counties. All donations go directly to assist families in need.

For more information about Adopt-A-Family, go to or contact your nearest state service center.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.