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DHSS Press Release

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

Date: November 12, 2013


NEW CASTLE (Nov. 12, 2013) - This holiday season, add Delaware's children and seniors in need to your shopping lists by participating in the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program.

In Delaware, the Human Services Council, Inc., in partnership with the 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 cards or 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.

Those interested in adopting a senior will be matched to an individual in need living in a nursing home. A wish list of things the individual likes and would appreciate, as well as clothing preferences and sizes, will be provided to you. After shopping for these residents, items can be dropped off at the New Castle County (3301 Green St., Claymont) or Kent and Sussex County Adopt-A-Family offices (13 SW Front St., Milford) or at a one-day event in Dover from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 11 at Carroll's Plaza (1114 S. DuPont Highway, Dover).

"Adopt-A-Family embodies the Delaware tradition of neighbors helping neighbors," Gov. Jack Markell said. "I encourage people from across the state to reach out through Adopt-A-Family to help provide a holiday to children, families and seniors who otherwise would go without one. Together, we can showcase the best of our community and the best of our holiday spirit."

"Across the state, we know the generous spirit of Delawareans," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the Adopt-A-Family program. "During these challenging economic times, please consider donating a gift card or gift certificate to help children, families or seniors experience a happier holiday season. Through a simple gift, we can show how one life can positively impact so many others."

The Division of State Service Centers, which houses the Adopt-A-Family program, includes services for individuals and families, services and support for communities, and emergency services.

"Each year, the Adopt-A-Family holiday program serves hundreds of children, families and seniors who might otherwise go without during the holiday season," said Cynthia Manlove, acting director of DHSS' Division of State Service Centers. "As we acknowledge the financial impact the economy has had on all of us, I am encouraged that Delawareans continue to give to those who are less fortunate. It is often the little things that leave the biggest impression."

In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 16 percent of Delawareans lived below the poverty line. In September 2013, more than 154,000 Delawareans qualified for food stamps and more than 215,000 people are on Medicaid. Delaware's unemployment rate for August 2013 was 7.3 percent.

"As the economy continues to recover, we find the need is still great for our Holiday Adopt-A-Family program," Landgraf said. "That's why we rely on the generosity of individuals, businesses and organizations to volunteer or to donate by adopting a family or a senior."

To "adopt" an individual or family in:

The deadline to "adopt" a family is Dec. 10, and all gift cards and gifts must be delivered to the Adopt-A-Family Office by Dec. 16. Families who are adopted come to each location to receive their assistance.

In 2012, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped more than 2,500 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.

For these programs, Adopt-A-Family accepts financial and in-kind donations. Checks can be made payable to: Adopt-A-Family, and for New Castle County, mailed to 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703; or for Kent and Sussex counties, mailed to Adopt-A-Family, 13 SW Front St., Milford, DE 19963.

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

For reporters who need more information about Adopt-A-Family, including interviews, contact Catherine Fox, Marketing and Media Coordinator, at the State Office of Volunteerism, at (302) 255-9745.

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.