Even though Halloween candy is still fresh, it's not too early to start thinking about Christmas.
Welcome Warehouse has finished taking families for its annual adopt-a-family program and will now concentrate on recruiting sponsors to aid local people temporarily in need.
The nonprofit aid group for people within the Dublin City School District boundaries last year had between 130 and 140 families in its adopt-a-family program that ensures presents for children and a holiday meal.
"We're going to have more than 180, probably close to 200 this year," said Welcome Warehouse Executive Director Jean Griffith. "I don't have the final number yet, but it will be close to 200 families this year."
The application deadline has passed for families to be part of the program. Griffith said volunteers meet with families during the application process to get a detailed wish list for sponsors.
"They meet with volunteers who help them prepare a wish list with children's favorite toys, clothing size (and) color. ... The sponsor will get that wish list," she said. "We try to make it as easy as possible."
Families are referred to the adopt-a-family program through Dublin City School guidance counselors or local pastors.
"Guidance counselors are familiar with family situations and know which family is facing temporary need. We give applications to guidance counselors to pass onto families," Griffith said.
Sponsors are given the wish list and can choose to deliver the gifts themselves or have a Welcome Warehouse volunteer do it.
"It's a great way to ease the burdens on families struggling. At least they don't have to worry about whether their kids will have a gift to open Christmas morning or have a holiday meal," Griffith said. "We serve all faiths, but everyone has a holiday to celebrate. We want to try to make the holidays brighter for someone having a difficult time in their lives."
All families got gifts and a grocery card for the adopt-a-family program last year and Griffith said she expects the community to step up again this year.
"We did have enough sponsors last year to take the families that applied," she said. "We believe we will this year as well. People in this community are so generous. We get businesses, church groups, school groups and school classrooms from all over the community to sponsor families."
Need has grown at Welcome Warehouse, as shown in the increase of families in the adopt-a-family program this year.
"Our free shop is the busiest it's ever been. We're serving close to 20 families at every shop day. We even sometimes will have more than that show up. We have to ask them to make an appointment for next time because that's more than we can serve in the time we're open," Griffith said. "There are more people applying for our emergency service program. It would appear the need is growing."
Anyone interested in being a sponsor in the Welcome Warehouse adopt-a-family program can register online at welcomewarehouse.org.
Sponsors can choose the number of children and families they want to help. Sponsors are responsible for providing $75 in gifts for each child and a $50 grocery gift card for the family.
"It really is a communitywide effort with so many churches, schools and other groups getting involved," Griffith said. "It's a great example of people in the community getting together to serve their neighbors."