Holiday giving is brightening Kids Unlimited’s halls and bringing smiles to our participants’ faces.
U.S. Cellular warmed our hearts on a chilly, damp December day with its donation of cold-weather clothing — hats, gloves, sweaters, sweatshirts, socks — and cozy throw blankets. These items and more will be distributed to KU families who need them most.
The company’s donation came through its Gift of Connection Program, which is bestowing needed items on 40 nonprofits that bring people and communities together, including KU, to commemorate U.S. Cellular’s 40th anniversary. Soliciting contributions at its retail stores of sports gear, art supplies and games, U.S. Cellular is helping to make a happier holiday for the KU families who struggle most this time of year.
Poverty is just one challenge that many Kids Unlimited families navigate daily. The holidays intensify the impacts of addiction, child foster care and personal tragedy.
“It also creates a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress; it compounds depression … just for families who are struggling to keep their heads up,” said Tom Cole, KU founder and CEO.
Easing financial and emotional burdens at Thanksgiving, KU furnishes fixings for about 100 family feasts. Stuffing, sweet potatoes, a pie and a gift card for protein — turkey or ham — are portioned to serve four to six people. Bags filled with other groceries help to bridge kids’ nutritional gap over winter break.
“Food is a high, high need,” said KU office manager Michelle Hull.
Clothing, household items and more spread holiday joy to KU’s most vulnerable families, such as a single mom who worked with Oregon Department of Human Services to get her children out of foster care yet still co-parents with the former foster family. A single dad who battles substance use disorder is successfully parenting his five children, including two students at Kids Unlimited Academy, said Hull. KU supports “heavy-souled” teens carrying weights they never should at their age, said Cole.
“It’s really important for us to normalize their adolescence in some ways.”
The story that most moves Hull this year is of a family grieving their husband, father and primary wage earner. The man died less than two months after his first son was born.
Since the man’s accidental death in March, his wife and children have moved three times, each time farther from the kids’ school and mother’s job in Medford. Gas cards would ease the financial strain on this newly single mother, who rents a low-income apartment in Talent. Cozy bedding, warm clothing and some toys would help to bring the three kids some comfort during the first holidays they’ve known without their father.
Read more about this family’s needs and how you can help in the Rogue Valley Times’ Dec. 8 story. And learn more about how you can make a difference through our annual Hope for the Holidays appeal, which it hitting mailboxes around the region this week.