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Adopt-A-Family 2023: Hundreds of Happy Kids

ATCAA's Adopt-A-Family program wrapped up a successful year of helping local families in need. With the help of a number of local businesses, groups, and residents, hundreds of children received gifts this year.

Jim Ayers, 2023 Adopt-A-Family Coordinator, surrounded by donations for families.

Beginning in 2009, the Adopt-A-Family program has been a part of ATCAA for 14 years now. The program is simple: families in need call ATCAA to sign up for presents for the children in their family, ages 17 and under. Families provide basic details about each child, like age, interests, and needs that guide Adopters in what presents to purchase for each child. Families are then assigned to Adopters based on their comfortable giving level. The program is anonymous to protect the identities of adoptee families.

The program was previously ran by ATCAA's former Sonora Shelter Coordinator, Chris Neves, who was in charge of the program for 7 years. Neves recent departure from ATCAA left the program's future in question. Kristy Moore, ATCAA Communications Manager, was determined to keep the program alive and worked to have Jim Ayers, VITA Site Coordinator, take over the program for 2023. Ayers had never ran a program like Adopt-A-Family before, but with the guidance of Neves and Moore, he quickly caught on.

Efforts to recruit Adopters began in November, leaving a somewhat narrow window to find enough people to contribute gifts for the 124 families that initially signed up for a little extra help this holiday season. Over time, that number grew to 145 families, which called for a large amount of support from the community.

Black Oak Casino employees proudly standing amongst the presents they donated.

The Tuolumne County community showed up to ensure that all 145 families were taken care of! A special thanks to a number of local businesses and groups that contributed in a big way:

  • Black Oak Casino and other Tribal Entities

  • Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 391

  • Sonora High School

  • CalFire

  • Sierra Conservation Center

  • Solar Worx

  • Barebones Closet #12

  • Back Country Horsemen of California, Mid-Valley Unit

  • The Red Room

  • UV Skinz

  • Chapel in the Pines

  • Blue Oak Farms

  • Frontier Property Managment

Black Oak Casino (pictured in the photo on the right) has been supporting the program for a number of years, adopting a total of 40 families this year! CalFire orchestrated their annual Sue Arrouzet Toy Drive in Sonora that amounted to a large number of toys and over 20 new bikes for local kids.

Sonora High Students posing presents to be donated.

Sonora High School adopted a total of 18 families, with students and staff working together to make sure that all of the families had a special Christmas. 15-year-old CSF President Serena Layton who helped with Sonora High's contributions said, "I think it helped a lot of people to kind of get in tune with the community and understand that people need help. And also, it helped people to work

together. When we came into the library and kids

brought in presents to classes, they could feel they were helping, and they could see it affects somebody." We are grateful for every individual who contributes to our Adopt-A-Family program, but it is always special seeing Sonora High students get involved to help their community.

Some Tuolumne County residents contributed money who didn't have the time to shop, so ATCAA employees pitched in to shop for kids with the donated funds and wrapped presents, so the parents didn't have to. The bottom floor of the ATCAA building was almost entirely covered in presents by the end of the program. Walking through the rooms and seeing the masses of presents brought cheer to ATCAA employees and donors of the Adopt-A-Family program.

Presents piled high for local children in the ATCAA building.

As the days until Christmas dwindled, families came to ATCAA's offices to pick up their wrapped presents to bring home for the holiday. Ayers said he witnessed some full-circle moments from Adopters who participated in the program with some saying that they had benefitted from similar programs in the past and were now in a financially stable position to give back to other families in need. Meanwhile, some Adoptees expressed that they looked forward to contributing to the program in the future when they had the means to. Ayers favorite moment from the entire program was getting to witness a bit of that Christmas morning magic in ATCAA's offices. One parent brought their 11-year-old son with them to retrieve their gifts. When Ayers asked if the boy needed a bike, his mother said that he'd been wishing for a bike for a long time. When Ayers gave the boy the last mountain bike from CalFire's donations, he lit up with pure joy as he was granted his long-awaited wish.

Bicycles donated by CalFire from the Sue Arrouzet Annual Toy Drive.

The final tally of Adoptees amounted to 145 families that included 403 local adolescents. All families were taken care of and received presents to contribute to their holiday. The way that the Tuolumne County community has showed up every year to make sure local families are taken care of during the holidays is truly special. ATCAA's Adopt-A-Family program wouldn't be possible without the incredibly generous support from local groups, businesses, and residents. ATCAA extends it's most sincere gratitute to everyone who contributed to the 2023 Adopt-A-Family program. Together, we made a wonderful impact on Tuolumne County this holiday season.


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