Giving the gift of Christmas to thousands of needy families - DatelineCarolina

Giving the gift of Christmas to thousands of needy families

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Shoshana Suber, unemployed mother of three, says she's happy with the gifts Families Helping Families has given to her family. Shoshana Suber, unemployed mother of three, says she's happy with the gifts Families Helping Families has given to her family.
Nell Killroy, Families Helping Families director, works with many families and organizations to help thousands of needy families purchase gifts for their families. Nell Killroy, Families Helping Families director, works with many families and organizations to help thousands of needy families purchase gifts for their families.
Thousands of presents need to be labeled to organize the sponsors of the needy families so those families can get their gifts for Christmas. Thousands of presents need to be labeled to organize the sponsors of the needy families so those families can get their gifts for Christmas.
Neil Bonacum and Candice Escoe, father and daughter, sponsor a needy family for the first time and feel it's a special feeling to give to others as it brings everyone together. Neil Bonacum and Candice Escoe, father and daughter, sponsor a needy family for the first time and feel it's a special feeling to give to others as it brings everyone together.
Suber's family wishes everyone a happy holidays and encourage others to give from the heart to any family in need. Suber's family wishes everyone a happy holidays and encourage others to give from the heart to any family in need.

By Kenneil Mitchell
CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS

Families Helping Families has been spreading holiday happiness for 26 years by purchasing food, clothing and gifts for 45,600 needy families in South Carolina over those decades.

With just three weeks away from Christmas, the non-profit organization is still in need of sponsors for families suffering hardship.

 The organization, a partnership between the Palmetto Project and WIS-TV, works with social services agencies in four Midlands counties to identify families with specific needs.

Sponsors, including individuals, families, churches and organizations, are provided a holiday "wish list" of things families need.  They purchase and wrap gifts and deliver them to the Families Helping Families warehouse for distribution before Dec. 25.

Shoshana Suber, an unemployed mother of three girls, left her job as a registered nurse in order to stay home with her young children, who are all under the age of 4. The father of the children, Royale Diamond, works full-time.

“Looking at the situation, I’m not working, I have three kids and Christmas is a special time for all kids,” Suber said. “I don’t want me not working to disadvantage them.”

She went to Families Helping Families for help with providing presents for the children's Christmas and is grateful for the program.

“If you need help with Christmas, they’re really good with getting the kids stuff that’s educational,” Suber said.

In a small apartment complex in Columbia, Suber and her boyfriend Royale, played puzzles with their daughters on a recent November night.

Nell Killoy, director of Families Helping Families, has helped families in need through the program for 19 years, and finds joy in seeing people happy.

“To see the look on the moms' faces when they come to pick up the gifts, that’s rewarding,” Killoy said.

Families Helping Families focuses on four counties in South Carolina: Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Fairfield.

The process begins in August when Killoy and her team meet with agencies with social workers that work with families in the four counties.

Next, Families Helping Families gives them applications to refer the families who qualify for assistance through the charity’s income guidelines, by Oct. 1.

Killoy says Families Helping Families has helped 3,000 families so far this year, but wants to meet the charity's goal of 3,200 families.

Ray Tanner, University of South Carolina athletic director, used his foundation to donate $5,000 to Families Helping Families to purchase hundreds of bicycles and tricycles for needy families.

The program has to code thousands of gifts to make sure they have the right sponsor for the right family to pick up for the holidays.

Killoy praised the program’s message of giving gifts of all types to needy families.

“I think it’s that feeling of care and concern that makes this program vital to our community,” Killoy said.

Neil Bonacum and Candice Escoe, father and daughter, were happy to donate presents to Families Helping Families for the first time, instead of buying gifts for each other.

“This was our family’s gift to each other this year,” Escoe said. “I won’t have to buy my dad a tie and he doesn’t have to buy me anything.”

Bonacum and Escoe adopted a family with twins through the program, purchasing jewelry, clothes, a grocery store card and books.

Bonacum loved spending time with his daughter and spending money for those less fortunate. However, he did not enjoy the shopping trips.

“The worst part about the whole thing is going to the store,” Bonacum said. “When you’re shopping with a woman, you better be ready."

Bonacum is impressed with the charity and hopes his gifts bring joy to the families.

 “I thought it was wonderful, you get all together and do something that’s really good for somebody else,” Bonacum said. “I certainly hope they enjoy it and everything fits.”

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