RIVER FALLS -- With only weeks until Christmas, River Falls Sharing Families is still seeking a few more individuals or groups who wish to help provide gift packages for needy area families.
As of mid-November, 33 families had been "adopted" by area businesses, work and church groups, and other families, but up to 17 others are still available, said Judy Wiff, who leads the seasonal charity effort.
Here are details on a few of those still available:
• Family 4 includes two adults and a 3-year-old boy.
•Family 28 includes parents with girls ages 12 and 7 and boys ages 9 and 4
• Family 32 is a single mom with a 14-year-old daughter.
• Family 36 is a two-parent family with boy age 7 and girl age 2
• Family 37 is a two-parent family with boys ages 7 and 6.
• Family 40 is a single parent with a boy 13 and a girl 4.
Those willing to sponsor a family will receive additional details, including children's sizes. They're invited to shop for some basic clothing items and gifts. The contributions are paired with a generous grocery package for each family.
The deadline for dropping off gifts for Sharing Families will be noon Friday, Dec. 13. All are delivered to recipients the week before Christmas.
Anyone wishing to sponsor a family can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-977-2038. Contributions can be sent to P.O. Box 701, River Falls, 54022. All contributions are tax-deductible. Sharing Families is an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) organization.
The program was started in 1988 by the River Falls Journal with a simple mission of using the newspaper and weekend advertiser to anonymously connect families in need with donors willing to help. In 1998, Sharing Families incorporated as a nonprofit corporation, overseen by a volunteer board of directors.
The project operates in cooperation with volunteers from Angels on Earth Giving Tree (formerly the Ecumenical Giving Tree Program) who screen the applicants.
This year, the organization will collect and distribute gift and grocery packages from the lower level of the Knight-Berry Title Co. building, 116 E. Elm St. The building owners have donated use of the space at no charge.
In 2018, Sharing Families helped 41 families, including 109 children and 63 adults. Contributors gifted nearly $14,000 to help fund the program. When all family needs were fulfilled, a total of $4,950 was divided between nine River Falls area schools, and four nonprofit assistance programs to help children in need throughout the year.