by Geoff Fox
Each year, families in Hancock in need of assistance at Christmas time have been able to reach out to a very trusted name and group – Christmas For Others.
This year, like in years past, those families will be getting the help they need through CFO and Debbie Murphy.
The Greater Hancock Council of Churches sponsors CFO, a program that helps families by providing, Food Lion gift cards, and $35 clothing certificates that are redeemable at Family Dollar. The certificates, Murphy said, are for children 18 and under.
Sponsorship of the program comes from donation from local churches, individuals, and civic organizations.
“So it is a community-wide program,” Murphy said.
Because it is a community based sponsorship, those who can register is limited to folks in the 21750 zip code.
Murphy said if people have registered in the past for CFO, they could give her a call at 301-678-53382 to update their information. If they are new to participating in CFO, they can call her as well to set up an appointment to register.
“Please have proof of need, paystub, SS benefits, independence card, etc. and two forms of ID showing your address,” Murphy said.
Due to COVID, Murphy said they are trying to avoid the line up at registration at Hancock United Methodist Church as well as the crowds during the distribution in December at the Community Center.
In 2020, things were modified where organizers stopped food collections from area churches and instead CFO is getting gift cards from Food Lion. Those gift cards will be distributed based on the number of people in each family.
Murphy said this method worked pretty well last year.
This also allows recipients to get what they want and not what CFO provides.
There is a need for toy sponsors again this year.
CFO has had good luck from area churches, community members and businesses sponsoring a child getting toys.
Murphy added the names of the child are not given to the sponsors who want to get toys. Instead, they are given a slip of paper with an idea of what the child would want.
It’s not a generic toy sponsorship, Murphy added. When parents sign up, they are given a sheet that has categories and gives an idea what the child would want.
“We don’t want children to be disappointed,” she said.
Toy distribution would be December 8. CFO would also arrange for delivery of the food cards, as they don’t want the cards to get lost in the mail.
“We will do deliveries for people that need that,” she said.
If there are folks out there who may be experiencing the need for assistance for the first time this year and are afraid to ask for help, Murphy said the program is funded with the intention to helping people with needs at Christmas.
If they meet the criteria and guidelines, those who might need help for the first time are just as entitled to the program as anybody else.
For the last three years, Murphy said CFO has helped 200 people each year, but the break down of those people has changed.
“Last year, we reached out to some of the homeless people in our area as a special exception and they received some gift cards,” Murphy said.
Murphy also gave credit to Debbie Cohill and Interfaith Service Coalition in having their food drop offs to assist folks with food needs.
“They are receiving basic food through the ISC and so our gift cards to Food Lion gives them a little option buy things that aren’t covered by that program,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the need is as great as ever this year for CFO.
“We’re here to help meet that need,” she said.