Monday, December 1, 2008

Want to be a secret Santa?

Over seven percent of Arlington residents live in poverty. That’s according to the 2004 census. Take the escalating economic crisis, add rising food, fuel and utility costs, and the result is more Arlington residents struggling to make ends meet.

You can help this holiday season — the Secret Santa program, which helps 1,000+ individuals each year, seeks donations of gift cards to help make a difference in the lives of some of Arlington's most vulnerable residents:

Children in Foster Care: Existing resources don’t even begin to meet the needs of foster children, generally one of the neediest populations. A good winter coat could consume half of the state subsidy a child in foster care receives each year. Your contribution of a gift card will help bring a happy holiday to these deserving kids.

Disabled Persons: Residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities or mental illness face employment obstacles and stigma that limit their earning power. Giving a disabled person a gift card they can use to purchase items of their choosing provides an empowering experience.

Seniors with Low-Incomes: County nurses and social workers care for many older adults in the community whose conditions make it difficult for them to leave their homes. Many of these seniors have medical needs and very low incomes. The Secret Santa program prioritizes seniors who are very poor or have no family in the area.

Low-Income Families: To qualify for federal benefits like food stamps, a family of four living in Arlington must make less than $27,564. Sounds impossible — yet 2,572 households in Arlington receive food stamps right now.

Recommendation: Consider gift cards from nearby department stores such as Target, K-Mart or Wal-Mart, or shopping mall gift cards that can be used at local malls. For low-income families, choose gift cards from local grocery stores. Gifts cards should not exceed $50 each, but you can submit as many as you like.

How to be a Secret Santa…
Mail or hand deliver gift cards
by Dec. 5 to:
Secret Santa Program
c/o Kurt Larrick
Department of Human Services
3033 Wilson Blvd, Suite 700A
Arlington, VA 22201

Individual cards should not exceed $50, but you can donate as many cards as you like.

Cards may be designated for a particular beneficiary group or left undesignated. Undesignated gift cards are especially welcome and will be used where they're needed most.

Include the value of the gift card (if it's not printed on the card), a return address so we can acknowledge your gift, and a beneficiary designation if you choose one.

Please submit cards by Dec. 5. Late-arriving cards will still be accepted.

We welcome donations from individuals, businesses, and groups.

Questions? Contact Kurt Larrick at 703-228-1775.

From the Arlington County Website:


Anonymous said...

I did this last year and its well worth doing.

Katie said...

Great idea. Thanks.