Ephrem Rukumdo, left, a UC Davis student from Rwanda, helps volunteer Rory Jaffe take a load of boxes out to a family's car at last year's STEAC Holiday Program distribution day at First Baptist Church in West Davis. It's time to sign up now to adopt a family for the holidays. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise file photo

Local News

Holiday program brings relief to financially strained Davis families

By From page A1 | November 08, 2012

You can help

What: STEAC adopt-a-family program

When: Food and gifts must be delivered Dec. 11-13

Where: First Baptist Church of Davis, 38141 Russell Blvd.

Sign up: Visit www.steac.org, call 530-758-8435 or email [email protected]

Volunteers are already hard at work, preparing for a program that has become a staple of Davis’ holiday season.

For more than 30 years, the Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee has organized a program that ensures that many of the city’s struggling families receive the necessities around Christmas time.

Susan Simon, executive director of STEAC, has overseen the holiday program for eight of those years. Her impression is that it’s more essential than ever to a growing number of families in need.

“It’s always been the highlight of the year for STEAC and a good portion of the community,” Simon said. “What we’re starting to see (is that) we’re having to turn families away.”

The holiday program can serve only 400 families, or approximately 1,500 people, due to the limit on what the community can realistically support.

Because the demographic has widened, only low-income Davis residents are allowed to apply for holiday donations from STEAC. The organization’s other year-round services, such as help with rent payments, are open to residents throughout Yolo County.

Even though Christmas is more than a month away, the program starts early enough so that all the food and gifts are distributed to needy families by mid-December. It’s time to start thinking about adopting a family now, Simon said.

Donors select the size of the family they wish to adopt — ranging from elderly or homeless individuals to financially burdened eight-person families — before receiving a list of food items to purchase. The food includes household staples like cereal, peanut butter, canned vegetables and meats as well as all the fixings for a traditional holiday meal.

Each member of the recipient family also is asked to list two gift items, which typically are toys, clothing or gift cards.

“A lot of Davis families like to do this,” Simon said. “There are some young people in the city who are quite privileged, and it gives them the idea that there are people who don’t have as much in the world.

“We’ve been doing this so long that we now have kids that have grown up and are bringing their kids to do this, which is kind of fun to see.”

Distribution of the mountains of boxes of food and gifts takes place in mid-December at First Baptist Church in rural West Davis.

“When (the families) come out to get the donations, they’re extremely grateful,” Simon said. “With some of the families, this is it — this is all they’re going to have for Christmas. They just don’t have the money to do it.

“It’s extremely poignant when there are small children involved. Part of the joy of having a child is the holidays.”

To learn more about the program and to adopt a family, visit www.steac.org, call 530-758-8435 or email [email protected].

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052.

Brett Johnson

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