Holiday Giving Campaign gives struggling families a helping hand

A single mother of three who moved to Allegan County to flee an abusive relationship says she wouldn’t have a Christmas for her children if Community Action of Allegan County hadn’t stepped up.

“I had no hope that I was going to be able to give them a nice Christmas this year, but thanks to you I can,” she wrote in a thank-you note to the nonprofit.

Another mother shared that despite the upheaval that comes with a divorce, she was trying to give her two children the joy of Christmas, but her single income didn’t leave enough to provide that.

“(My children are) at an age to remember Christmas better and I want to provide them with good memories, even though our family is changing,” she wrote. 

It was a similar situation for a third mother, whose family was reeling from her husband leaving.

“If it weren’t for Community Action, my kids wouldn’t have any presents under the tree,” she wrote.

These were among the heartfelt notes Community Action received last year after providing gifts to families in need during the holidays. The organization’s Holiday Giving Campaign raises funds to ensure individuals and families can keep their homes warm and bright during the winter while still enjoying a hopeful, joyous holiday.

 Meaningful difference

Community Action’s Holiday Giving Campaign is an annual initiative that strives to support families in need to experience the magic of the holiday season, regardless of their circumstances. The campaign collects gifts, personal health and hygiene items, toys, coats, mittens, and other items. Last year, 94 families, 297 children, and 62 seniors were helped through this program. 

Community Action also paid an average of $869 per household for crisis utility assistance, preventing 601 families from utility shut-off.

The nonprofit is committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of senior citizens, children, and families in crisis. The holidays are no exception. 

“Every donation, no matter the size, contributes to making a difference in the lives of local families who could use a helping hand during the holidays,” says Lisa Evans, CAAC’s executive director.
The nonprofit distributes Christmas gifts to families by appointment for about a week and a half in December. This includes gift bags to homebound seniors along with a holiday meal the week before Christmas. 

Heating assistance

The need for assistance for low-income neighbors is critical this year. Drastic cuts in the organization’s crisis utility funding. which supports home heating for low-income families, coupled with higher costs of food, gas, diapers, and other basic needs, have created a daunting challenge for low-income households this holiday season.

“Many families will grapple with the unbearable choice between heating their home or providing their children with a memorable holiday. For many parents, the dream of providing Christmas gifts to their children is simply beyond reach, and many homebound seniors who have no family living close will be alone for the holidays,” Evans says. 

The involvement of the community, whether through volunteering of time or giving financially, is invaluable to the nonprofit's mission, Evans says.

“Our volunteers assist parents with their Holiday Giving appointments, deliver donation boxes, in-kind donations, and assemble and deliver gift baskets to homebound seniors,” she says.

For more information on how to support Community Action’s work, visit or send an email to

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.