Adopt a Family & Gift Programs

Dec 9, 2009

hathaway-cardOne of the most rewarding and meaningful ways to share in the holiday season is by “adopting” a family — which basically means buying both gifts and essentials for a needy family that has registered through a local agency. Because of my own family’s generations-deep history with the L.A. Archdiocese, we’ve adopt a family through the downtown cathedral (at first St. Vibiana’s, now Our Lady of the Angels). But there are several other terrific operations that help families and children in the San Gabriel Valley.

Here are worthy places looking for both individual gifts for children and bigger commitments to help a family. Most need contributions by the weekend before Christmas.

Door of Hope. Door of Hope maintains a Christmas wish list for each of the 25 families in residence, who are saving to move from this transitional housing into homes of their own. Each family fills out a wish list with names, ages and sizes, and organizes their wishes into $5-10, $10-20 and $20-$100 categories; you can choose what fits your budget or tugs your heartstrings. 669 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena, 626.304.9103.

Five Acres. A residential and outpatient center and school for children who have suffered physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse, Five Acres has great need this time of year for everything from food to gifts. If you call Margaret Morici (626.798.6793, ext. 2244 or, she’ll let you know which wish lists are still unmet — you can provide a gift for a child or gifts for all ten children in a cottage. Five Acres also has 100 families on its adopt-a-family wish list, so if you can help a family with food, essentials and gifts for Christmas, Morici will match you to the right family.

Foothill Family Service. This thriving nonprofit runs a holiday Adopt-a-Family program that helps low-income, high-need families from across the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys. Scout troops, book groups, offices and individuals can all participate; gifts can be dropped off at the Pasadena offices in time for the holidays, or if you’d rather donate money, Susan Dutra will do the shopping for you. You can reach Susan at 626.564.1613, ext. 135.

Hathaway-Sycamores. This longstanding and fine center for traumatized and at-risk children has put out the call for both unwrapped gifts for children and a handful of good souls to adopt whole families. If you can contribute a gift for a child from infancy through 18, please drop it at the office, 210 S. De Lacey Ave., Suite 110, Pasadena; toys are always welcome, as are gift cards for clothes, music, movies, books and sporting goods. If you can help a family, please talk to Andi Sica at 626.395.7100, ext. 2516, or e-mail at

Hillsides. It’s fun to scroll through the wish list created by foster children who live and/or go to school at Hillsides, a vibrant community in southwest Pasadena. Some wishes are generic (jewelry box, slippers), but others are quite specific: a Twilight t-shirt, Weird Al CD (no parental advisory), AquaDoodle Draw ‘n’ Doodle, 4GB memory card for PSP…. If you can make a foster child happy with one of these items, wouldn’t you do it? Of course you would. Contact Laura Kelso, 323.254.2274 or There’s even a handy online shopping cart where you can donate anything from $5 for personal hygiene items to $100 to adopt a family.



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