It's that time of year for people who live in the Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge school districts to adopt the Christmas spirit -- or allow it to adopt them.

It's that time of year for people who live in the Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge school districts to adopt the Christmas spirit -- or allow it to adopt them.

"The Adopt a Family assistance program for 2012 has begun," said the Rev. Dan McLaughlin, program coordinator and Faith Fellowship Church pastor. "This is an assistance program for those in need of a little Christmas help."

He said the program is not only for those in need but also for those willing to adopt a family in need and provide presents for the children. McLaughlin asked those adopting families to purchase a "nice, but moderate array of presents" and drop them off at a neutral location for distribution to the adopted family.

"It's a wonderful way of truly making a difference in the lives of those who need a little extra help during the holidays," he said.

McLaughlin said the program helped dozens of local families in need last year, and he expects the number to be even greater this year. Until this year, only two places were set up to grab applications for the program and drop off presents. This year, six locations with clearly marked Christmas mailboxes are set up: the Heartland Bank of Johnstown, the Faith Fellowship office in downtown Johnstown, the Pizza Place in Croton and the Homer, Mary E. Babcock and Alexandria public libraries. Applications are due Nov. 19.

McLaughlin said the greater Johnstown area is home to many families who might find it difficult to purchase presents for their children this year.

"It's tough to make ends meet," he said.

McLaughlin said those who would like to be adopted should provide a copy of a state-issued driver's license or state-issued ID with current address. He said they should copy both sides of the license if a change-of-address sticker is on the back. Proof of residency in the Johnstown or Northridge school district, such as a copy of an electric bill with the applicant's name and current address, also is required.

"This is strictly geared toward the children," McLaughlin said. "That's the focus."

Of course, he said, single parents or anyone could be adopted for the season, but the program is designed primarily for the children, who will provide a list of preferred gifts to those doing the adopting. Entire families or one or more children may be adopted.

McLaughlin said families are screened to determine their level of need and assurance that they are not receiving aid from any other agencies. The program sends those who are adopting a form to show each adopted person's name, sizes, ethnicity and small wish list. Assignments of families will begin Nov. 12.

McLaughlin said those who are adopting should spend about $75 per child in the family and place the recipient's name on the gift. He said all gifts should be placed in large plastic bags or boxes marked with a family code number that the program would provide by mail. Gifts should be brought to the location designated in the mailing between Dec. 3 and 8. More information is available at

McLaughlin said many children simply ask for clothing, particularly "Johnnie Wear," which falls within the Johnstown-Monroe district's official dress code.

"This just helps people who are struggling," he said. "It provides them a little extra help."