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Delaware Health and Social Services

DHSS Press Release

Date: November 23, 2015

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


NEW CASTLE (Nov. 23, 2015) - By participating in the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, Delawareans can help bring the holiday spirit to thousands of Delaware children, adults, people with disabilities and seniors in need. There are many ways to support individuals and families in need, including an online shopping option called CommuniGift.

Each holiday season, donors are anonymously matched to a senior, individual with a disability or a 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 or a person with a disability 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. After shopping for these residents, items can be dropped off at the Adopt-A-Family offices in New Castle County (3301 Green St., Claymont) or Kent and Sussex County (13 SW Front St., Milford).

"Through a simple gift, we can touch the hearts of children and their families or seniors in a nursing home," Gov. Jack Markell said. "One act can have a powerful impact, especially for those most vulnerable this holiday season. I encourage people to reach out through Adopt-A-Family and showcase the best of our community holiday spirit."

Again this year, Adopt-A-Family makes it easier to support a Delaware individual or family through a partnership with the online giving platform, CommuniGift. Donors are able to browse and learn about individuals and families in need, and then directly purchase products for them through one-click integration with retailers. To familiarize yourself with the process, go to

Another option is to buy gift cards or shop for items in your favorite stores or your favorite online shopping sites. You can either have the items mailed to Adopt-A-Family or drop them off yourself (offices addresses below). Just include the family code with the gift cards or items, so Adopt-A-Family knows who should receive the items. Otherwise, Adopt-A-Family staff will distribute the items to the individuals or families most in need first.

A sampling of Delawareans in need:

  • A Wilmington family of four is currently homeless and staying with a relative. The father is not involved with the family financially or physically. The family, including two sons, ages 8 and 6, and a daughter, age 1, would really appreciate any assistance for the holiday.
  • A Dover mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this year. She is currently undergoing radiation and will be out of work for another month at least. Her health is declining. She has two sons, ages 12 and 8, and a daughter, age 6.
  • She loves her stuffed animals and writing in her notebook. She would like a radio, notebook & pencils, watch, and rosary.

"Please think about coming together as a family, a workplace, a place or worship, a school or an organization to adopt a family or a senior in need," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the Adopt-A-Family program. "During this holiday season, your generosity on behalf of vulnerable Delawareans is greatly appreciated."

The deadline to "adopt" a family is Dec. 14, and all gift cards and gifts must be delivered to the Adopt-A-Family Office by Dec. 18. Families who are adopted pick up their gift cards from their respective Adopt-A-Family office.

In 2014, the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program, through the leadership of the Human Services Councils of New Castle County and Kent/Sussex counties, helped 2,593 Delawareans. Most of the beneficiaries are single-parent households, children, adults with a disability, and senior citizens. Eligible recipients 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.

In 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 12.5 percent of Delawareans lived below the poverty line. In November 2015, more than 143,000 Delawareans qualified for food benefits and more than 230,000 people are clients of Medicaid. Delaware's unemployment rate for October 2015 was 5.1 percent.

"While the economy continues to improve, the need for our Holiday Adopt-A-Family program remains far-reaching," Secretary Landgraf said. "So many Delaware families continue to be impacted by medical conditions, behavioral health issues, domestic violence, homelessness and unemployment. The personal stories of need are truly heart-breaking. That's why we are grateful for your support in adopting a family, an individual with a disability, or a senior in need."

To "adopt" an individual or family without using CommuniGift, please contact:

  • New Castle County: Contact the New Castle County Adopt-A-Family at (302) 792-9538 or email Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
  • Kent and Sussex counties: Contact the Kent and Sussex Adopt-A-Family at (302) 424-7260 or email . Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • New Castle County: Adopt-A-Family, 3301 Green St., Claymont, DE 19703.
  • For Kent and Sussex Counties: 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.

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.

Last Updated: Thursday June 02 2016
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