Adopt-A-Family program to operate differently during pandemic

  • Adopt-A-Family Coordinator Libby Kolasinski, at right, gives a gift card to Karin Anderson, community coordinator with Community Action Pioneer Valley. Due to the pandemic, the Adopt-A-Family program is operating differently this year, with community members donating money that in turn buys gift cards that are given to participating social service agencies, like Community Action. The agencies then distribute the gift cards to local families. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/30/2020 3:34:57 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — For the past several decades, the Adopt-A-Family program has worked to match families in need across Franklin County with generous sponsors who purchase food and gifts for the families to enjoy on Christmas Day.

“We used to meet in South Deerfield at one of the churches and on Thursday of a specific week, everyone would bring their gifts in,” recalled Adopt-A-Family Coordinator Libby Kolasinski. “On Friday, all of the families, or parents, would come in for their gifts and food.”

But with large gatherings against current public health guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19, “it had to change,” she said.

This year, those who are interested in helping families in the upcoming holiday season will be asked to contribute only monetary donations.

“I’m asking ... if they could possibly give as much as they would normally spend (on a whole family), and as much as they can afford,” she said.

Kolasinski will then go out and buy various gift cards, which she will distribute amongst the participating social service agencies. Agencies, in turn, distribute the gift cards to families.

“They’ll have to buy their gifts and foods themselves,” she said.

In a normal year, the regional charity would receive wish lists from upwards of 200 families referred to them by social service agencies in Franklin County. Those families would be matched with sponsors, who purchase the food and gifts.

“This year it’s different because we can’t have gatherings at all, but we’ve got to help the people,” she said.

Kolasinski said the change in this year’s plans is a loss for the volunteers, too.

“We have many, many volunteers, wonderful volunteers that have done it for years,” she said. “So this is a really sad thing for the volunteers, and really everybody, because it’s just such a wonderful time for gathering themselves. We just can’t do it.”

Monetary donations should be sent in the form of a check made out to Adopt-A-Family of Franklin County, which can be mailed to: Libby Kolasinski, 140 Russell St., Sunderland, MA 01375.

Mary Byrne can be reached at or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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