Every year, Fisherman’s Mark Social Services in Lambertville, NJ, teams up with “Adopt-A-Child for the Holidays” sponsored by the New Hope Solebury Key Club, PA to provide holiday gifts for area children and seniors. With inflation on the rise and prices for food and rent spiking, Fisherman’s Mark has seen an increase in their program participants at both their Free MARKet (previously the food pantry), and their social services offices. An increasing cost of living makes it even harder for struggling members of our community to afford holiday gifts for loved ones.
Fisherman’s Mark program participants are eligible to participate in the holiday gift program. The program operates by matching gift requests from families and seniors with willing donors. Fisherman’s Mark requests gift wish lists from their program participants and the lists are then shared with Adopt-A-Child (AAC), who posts them on their website. Families, businesses, organizations, homerooms, etc. then select a child or senior’s list, purchase the requested holiday gifts, bag them up and bring them to the MARKet location. Bags are labeled and stored until delivery day, the Wednesday before Christmas, when families and seniors pick up their gifts as well as a holiday meal package.
Ricardo Zapata, Director of Operations for Fisherman Mark said, “Many of these families are in a position where they could not afford to buy presents for their children. The AAC program provides the only gifts their kids will open this holiday.” A total of 304 children and 87 seniors are the recipients of holiday gifts this year, which represents an increase of 30% over 2021. “I’ve seen more requests for winter coats and furniture items for children, and more appliances for seniors,” Zapata said. In addition, Fisherman’s Mark will be distributing 206 holiday meals.
Susan Huerkens of Buckingham, PA has been a loyal Fisherman’s Mark donor since the early 80’s. She chose to adopt a senior citizen because the wishlist requested large print crossword puzzles and a reading lamp. “I like that she’s keeping her mind active,” Huerkens said. “Because we don’t need much, we try to give to worthy causes, but Fisherman’s Mark is my favorite.”
“I love all the programs we offer but this one is one of my absolute favorites,” said Jennifer Williford, Executive Director for Fisherman’s Mark. “It brings together the entire community to ensure that children will have something to open.” In addition to the generous donors, the program runs with a dedicated team of volunteers who manage the massive tasks of creating labels, intaking and organizing the gifts, and then handing them out on distribution day.
“I’m so grateful to all of the generous donors who ensure that our program participants have gifts under the tree each holiday. It is truly heartwarming for our participants to know that they have a community who is here to help them,” Williford said.
To donate to Fisherman’s Mark, visit www.fishermansmark.org/donations