Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – Every year the Allen County Christmas Bureau’s Adopt-A Family program makes it possible for neighbor to help neighbor by adopting needy individuals and families. Help is given anonymously but former aid recipient Mike Rasor was able to share his story because he is now the vice-president of The Christmas Bureau board. “Many years ago I got hurt,” said Rasor. “Things were pretty thin.”
Temporarily unable to work, Rasor and his wife and children were eligible to receive donated gifts from the Christmas Bureau. “We got gifts for the kids, clothes and a couple of games.” It was a humbling time for Rasor because growing up he and his family actually helped the Bureau help others. “My dad and my sister and I were all involved in the Christmas Bureau,” said Rasor. “You always think that what we do is for somebody else, but when you’re the one who needs it right then, it comes in handy. The Christmas Bureau came through for us that year and we’ve been giving back ever since.”
That year was more than twenty years ago. Since then Rasor has been giving back in a big way. “He’s the vice-president,” said Christmas Bureau president Jane Surbeck. “He’s the chair of the nominating committee. He does anything and everything that he can do to help.” Rasor works with Surbeck to help organize collection efforts so those less fortunate can have a brighter holiday season. “I needed help once and didn’t get it because I would not ask,” said Surbeck. “That was many years ago in 1971. I wouldn’t ask but people do ask. I’m so tickled and I’m so pleased when they ask for normal things instead of 500 things because then you know how really needy they are.”
Gifts are given to hundreds of adopted families and individuals every year. Surbeck said 355 families were adopted this year. Social service agencies select those who are most in need. “If they have a case manager and they’re the poorest of the poor in a specific year, the case manager will turn that family in.”
For confidentiality, each family is assigned a numerical code. Anyone who adopts someone will get a code that corresponds to a particular family. Those who adopt must provide a Christmas Day meal made up of canned and packaged products and a gift certificate for meat and produce. Hygiene products and staple items must also be provided along with a new outfit of clothing for each family member and a new toy for a child or teenager. Some families make special requests that adopters are asked to try to meet.
“It is absolutely confidential,” said Surbeck. Rasor chose to tell his story because he has experienced both sides of the Bureau’s adopt a family spirit and he wanted to share that spirit with others. “Kids shouldn’t go without Christmas.,” he said. Nobody should go without Christmas. You do what you can to help other people. You always want to give back.”
To learn how to adopt a family or volunteer in 2018, call the Christmas Bureau at 260-710-2163.