Each year during the holiday season, the Sherburne County Health and Human Services Department receives a number of requests from struggling families for help to make the holidays special. Requests are varied and have been as simple as food for a holiday meal to gifts for children to open Christmas morning.
The Health and Human Services Department also receives a number of inquiries from churches, businesses and families throughout the community who want to sponsor families in need during the holiday season. For many years, Sherburne County Health and Human Services has coordinated a holiday program to meet this need in the community by matching families with community members and groups who want to help. In 2011, 34 community sponsors helped 75 families (187 individuals) through the Sherburne County holiday program.
According to Sue Koch, with Sherburne County Health and Human Services, the program works to meet the needs of the sponsor as well as the family. “Sponsors let us know what they would like to provide and we attempt to match them with a family who has made a similar request,” she said.
In 2011, a single grandmother raising her 2-year-old granddaughter requested assistance from the holiday program. The granddaughter had extensive medical needs and made frequent trips to the Twin Cities for medical care.
When asked if there were any needs beyond gifts for the granddaughter, the grandmother only wanted to include her grandchild’s needs. After being pushed, the grandmother was silent for a long time and proceeded to say that she wished someone could fix her car so that it would be more reliable in getting her granddaughter to her medical appointments, but knew that was too much to ask.
The holiday program was able to connect this grandmother with a local shop owner who was touched by the opportunity to help this family. Learning the car could not be repaired, the owner was willing to give the grandmother a car from his used car lot. This grandmother was touched and overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude to the people of Sherburne County and their generosity in helping those who are less fortunate.
Sherburne County Health and Human Services is currently looking for individuals, families, groups and businesses interested in sponsoring a Sherburne County family.
Sponsors can remain anonymous, or include a note with their donation. All donations will be dropped off at the Sherburne County Government Center in Elk River where staff distribute donated items to the families.
If you are interested in sponsoring a family this holiday season, call Sue Koch at 763-765-4023 or email Sue.Koch@co.sherburne.mn.us.