Several local organizations and efforts tackle the great need in Paulding County each Christmas by providing toys, clothing and sometimes even food for families. They include such groups as Cops for Kids, sponsored by local law enforcement agencies, and Hope for Christmas, organized by West Ridge Church and supported by other local churches. However, these efforts can only serve so many families and registrations fill up fast.
“The registration for Hope for Christmas filled up within four days,” said Nina Lauter, coordinator for the Paulding Family Connection Children’s Cabinet.
In steps Lauter’s organization.
“What I do is try to catch the overflow — the ones who did not get registered,” she said.
The cabinet is a meeting of the minds among all the nonprofit and government organizations that aim to help families and children. By regularly meeting, heads and liaisons of the organizations are able to identify needs in the community and either modify, create or strengthen programs to meet those needs.
Also, the cabinet exists “to help connect county residents to the resources that are there,” Lauter said.
“We have a lot of resources in the county, but a lot of time [families] don’t know they are out there or how to contact them,” she said.
Through Lauter’s extensive networking in the community, she is able to connect families in need during the holiday season to organizations, churches or individuals who would be willing to help.
She said she has a contact list of more than 400, to which she sends email blasts when she gets a request from a school counselor or the Division of Family and Children Services to help a family in need.
The cabinet has helped 55 children receive toys and clothing this Christmas.
While the Hope for Christmas event already has taken place, Lauter said anyone can volunteer to adopt a family this Christmas.
A person wishing to buy items for a family will be provided a wish list which may include food, toys and clothing, as well as the children’s clothing and shoe sizes. A dropoff is typically organized either at a neutral area or the family home. This year, Hope for Christmas registered 1,400 families to receive assistance at its West Ridge location, and 614 other families will receive assistance through six other churches.
Cops for Kids registered 173 children for local law enforcement officers to take shopping for Christmas presents.
“There’s a huge amount of need and it seems to be growing each year,” Lauter said.
Those wishing to provide for a family this year should contact Lauter either by calling (770) 443-8003, extension 10211, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.