New group offers Christmas help


By Jim Poole

A new organization is aiming to help needy Schoharie County families around the holidays.
And time is short; the Community-wide Christmas Collaboration is looking for those needy families--and donors to help them--by next Wednesday.
Members of the county Chamber of Commerce, Head Start, Catholic Charities, SALT, churches and other groups formed the Collaboration just weeks ago to coordinate giving efforts and to make sure few needy families get left out.
Chamber Director Georgia Van Dyke and Head Start's Judy McLaughlin both serve on the board of SALT, the recovery organization. In that role, they learned from state Disaster Case Managers that some families were still in desperate need after Irene and Lee.
The two women also realized that many churches and other organizations already have holiday-giving programs, and "we thought, why not pull it all together?" Ms. Van Dyke said.
Community-wide Christmas Collaboration follows in the footsteps of the Schoharie County Christmas Bureau and the Schoharie County Community Action Program's annual holiday appeal.
The Christmas Bureau has been gone for years, and staff and funding cuts forced SCCAP to drop its holiday drive. The Collaboration fills that void.
But there's another issue, too.
Although donations were plentiful last fall, after Irene and Lee, that hasn't been the case this year, Ms. McLaughlin said.
"There's just not as much giving as there's been in the past," she said. "Last year, there was lots."
They developed the Collaboration idea hoping to do as much as they can in what's expected to be an annual drive.
Members are looking for gift cards or monetary donations that will be given to families.
"We saw the horrendous need," Ms. Van Dyke said, adding that as many as 1,000 families may be aided.
"Some families are struggling just to get food on the table or gas in their car."
Catholic Charities will manage who receives the donations. Having one agency handle the gifts ensures that families aren't served three or four times while others get nothing, Ms. McLaughlin said.
Families in need can contact Catholic Charities until 2pm today, Wednesday, or 10am-2pm Monday through Wednesday next week.
Families will fill out an application for help and should bring proof of address and proof of income.
To donate, send a check or gift card to "Christmas SCCDC" at 114 Lark Street, Cobleskill.
Anyone with questions can call Catholic Charities at 234-3581.