Voluntary Action Center searching for Christmas program sponsors

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | 4:57 p.m. CST; updated 8:42 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Voluntary Action Center's Christmas program needs to find sponsors for 250 families in Columbia by Nov. 20.

So far, the center has found sponsors for 900 of the 1,150 families who signed up to receive presents this year. To provide gifts to everyone, the agency will need to find an average of 50 sponsors a day until next Tuesday.

“I have faith that Columbia will come through somehow, some way,” said Ron Schmidt, project director with the Voluntary Action Center. “This is the 29th annual program and we have never not sponsored all of the families.”

Every year the Voluntary Action Center’s Christmas program provides gifts to more than 1,000 low-income families in the Columbia area. Sponsors include churches, businesses, individuals, families and other organizations.  The donations range from food and clothing to toys and household items.

“We are sending press releases out and using social media and friends of the VAC to get the word out,” Schmidt said. “We are behind schedule this year.”

Last year, nearly 1,200 families received Christmas presents from about 700 sponsors in the community. Some sponsors helped out more than one family.

Sponsors are advised to provide the necessities for a holiday dinner — whether it be food or a $15 gift certificate — and to give a minimum of one gift for each person who is elderly, disabled or under the age of 18.

Sponsors are assigned a drop-off date, which could either be Dec. 3, 4, 10 or 11. They also have the option to offer a donation to VAC between $50-$75 for gifts and $15 for food. The organization then writes vouchers to local stores so that the sponsored families can do the shopping themselves.

“This is a huge, well-organized program,” Schmidt said. “It runs like a well-oiled machine and works like clockwork, as it must to get all gifts delivered in a two-week period.”

People can also volunteer in December to assist with the collection and delivering of gifts. The gifts will be distributed to Trinity Presbyterian Church. Distribution days range from Dec. 3 to 6 and Dec. 10to 13.

Those who want to sponsor a family or to volunteer can call the Voluntary Action Center at 874-2273 or email

Supervising editor is Simina Mistreanu.

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