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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: August 4, 2014


With many Delaware families already starting their back-to-school shopping, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) asks you to remember students who are less fortunate by making a donation through the state's Adopt-A-Student program.

While staff members for the Adopt-A-Student programs for New Castle County and for Kent and Sussex counties say they have plenty of backpacks and school supplies, they still need gift cards so families can do back-to-school clothes shopping on their own. The Adopt-A-Student program asks for gift cards - in denominations of $15, $25, $30, $50 or $100 - to support families as they buy school uniforms. The gift cards can be from specific stores such as Target, Walmart, Old Navy, Forman Mills, Kmart, or more general gift cards such as Visa or American Express. Last year, more than 710 children in New Castle County and more than 150 children in Kent and Sussex counties were served through the Adopt-A-Student programs, coordinated through DHSS' Division of State Service Centers. Still, there weren't enough donations to help more than 100 children in Kent and Sussex counties.

"All of our families in Delaware want their children prepared for school and ready to achieve to their full potential," DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said. "Adopt-A-Student is a great way for the community to support less-fortunate families and to help more Delaware students remove any possible barriers to success."

Renee Beaman, director of the Division of State Service Centers, which oversees the Adopt-A-Student program, said although demand remains high, Delawareans have a critical opportunity to make a difference. "By making a generous donation of a gift card or by check, you are connecting with families and offering them the opportunity to bring the excitement of back-to-school shopping to their families, too," she said.

Here's how you can help:
1.) Gift cards can be dropped off or mailed to: New Castle Adopt-A-Family: 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703 Kent/ Sussex Adopt-A-Family, Milford State Service Center Annex, 13 SW Front St., Suite 103, Milford, DE 19963
2.) Tax-deductible cash donations from individuals and businesses can be made to: Human Services Council, Inc., 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703, or 13SW Front St., Suite 103, Milford, DE 19963. United Way donations can be designated by writing in the following codes: New Castle: #9102, Kent/Sussex: #12774

"School is such a critical growing time for our children, and a time for them to build self-esteem," said Shannon Smith, program coordinator for Kent/Sussex County Adopt-A-Family. "When a child of any age is able to begin a school year with all of the clothing and supplies they need, he or she feels more confident."

"Being fully prepared for school allows students not only to fit in, but also to establish relationships in school that will allow them to grow and to learn," said Lisa Johnson, volunteer services administrator for Adopt-A-Family in New Castle County. "When children enjoy school, it creates a domino effect and they can perform well in other settings, too."

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. During a typical year, the Adopt-A-Family program, with assistance from the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, has provided urgently needed assistance to more than 4,500 Delaware families in need, totaling more than 15,000 individuals. Most of the beneficiaries are single-parent households, children and senior citizens. The Division of State Service Centers is already gearing up for the Adopt-A-Family Holiday program, too. 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.

For more information about either the Adopt-A-Student or the Adopt-A-Family Holiday Program, please contact: New Castle County Adopt-A-Family at (302) 792-9538 Kent/Sussex County Adopt-A-Family at (302) 424-7260

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.