Voluntary Action Center fills empty Christmas program sponsor spots

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | 6:03 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The Voluntary Action Center has found sponsors for all of the families and individuals participating in its annual Christmas program.

On Monday, 22 sponsor slots remained, but they have since been filled. The deadline to participate was extended from Nov. 20 to Tuesday to make sure every person signed up had a Christmas sponsor.

Ron Schmidt, project director for the VAC, said Monday night was stressful for VAC employees, but the staff was hopeful.

"When I went to bed last night, I felt pretty confident we’d get all the sponsors we need," Schmidt said Tuesday. "I just didn’t think we’d have it done by 9:30 this morning."

More than 700 sponsors are a part of this year's Christmas program, assisting more than 1,200 Boone County families, he said.

"It's obviously a huge need — over 1,200 families sign up every year," Schmidt said. "We're in our 29th year, and it’s certainly not getting any smaller." 

Schmidt said a client once told him that Christmas is the one day every year for her children to not feel different from other children. The money clients might be able to scrape together for the holiday should probably be going toward rent and utilities, he said. 

"Most people would agree that low-income families deserve a good Christmas, and programs like ours make that possible," Schmidt said. "We’ll take care of the Christmas if they'll take care of the rent."

Although this year's sponsor spots are all filled, there are more ways to help the VAC's Christmas program. Money, gift cards, toys, books and other items can be donated to an extra "shopping room" used by sponsors. Also, volunteers will be needed for collection and distribution from Dec. 3 to Dec. 13. To help, email or call 874-2273.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey

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