Adopt-a-Family effort seeks community’s assistance

BY PATRICIA YOCZIS
Correspondent

JACKSON — The Adopt-a-Family program at the Jackson Women of Today (JWOT) food pantry is seeking individuals, businesses, civic and religious groups to help make the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays joyous for needy families and individuals who are currently registered at the food pantry.

“We have more than 100 families and individuals who reside in Jackson, including senior citizens and persons with disabilities, who are waiting to be ‘adopted,’ ” said Suzanne Rogalsky, president of the JWOT.

“We have infants to seniors, and small and large families. We provide a family’s or individual’s wish list with helpful information such as clothing size, and you decide what amount to spend,” she added.

Rogalsky said the food pantry, directed by Donna Sauers, has been in existence for about 20 years, with the last three or four years using a well-developed Adopt-a-Family program from the roster of food pantry patrons.

“Donna does an amazing job with the food pantry,” said Rogalsky, who has been a member of the JWOT for 12 years. “The Adopt-a- Family program is a cooperative effort with the food pantry that I think is Donna’s second home.”

She said between 50 and 60 volunteers assist with the food pantry and help with the Adopt-a- Family program.

The Adopt-a-Family initiative “is a great community project for groups such as schools, Scouts, sports teams, and adult communities,” said Rogalsky. “The wish lists we are receiving are for basic items such as socks, pajamas and cleaning agents, not luxury items. The economy is making even the basics expensive.”

To get the word out for donations, Linda Wagner, the publicity director for JWOT, said newspapers are very useful.

“We always ask where people heard about the food pantry and the Adopt-a-Family program,” said Wagner, who is a registered nurse. “About 99 percent of the time, [people say] the Tri-Town News, and it’s a great help in meeting our goal to reach out to the community.”

The greatest need for this year’s Adopt-a- Family program, she said, is to adopt a senior citizen.

“I personally feel seniors are where the need is,” said Wagner, who has been a JWOT member for more than a year. “Often, the seniors have no family or anyone nearby and [what is bought for them] may be their only Christmas or Hanukkah present.

“Last year a senior woman received a bathrobe as a gift. She was so thrilled because it was the first bathrobe she ever had. It often takes so little to make people have a happy holiday, just that someone cares,” Wagner added.

According to Rogalsky, last year all of the families and individuals in need were adopted, through the generous support of about 60 donors. The goal is to do the same this year.

Rogalsky requests that all gifts (wrapped or unwrapped) that are fulfilling a wish list be turned in to the JWOT by Dec. 4.

The food pantry, in the public works building at 10 Don Connor Blvd., will be the location for the presentation of the Adopt-a-Family gifts during the normal hours of food distribution on Dec.15 and 16.

“If the donors prefer, the families and individuals may be contacted and the gifts delivered directly at a mutually agreed date and time,” she said.

The JWOT, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, is a member of the national United States Women of Today, whose mission is service to the betterment of the community in which they live, as well as personal growth and fellowship. Currently, there are about 50 JWOT members.

For further information or to participate in the Adopt-a-Family program, contact Suzanne Rogalsky at 732-833-6800 or send an email to srogalsky@verizon.net.