By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
These organizations are already working toward bringing Christmas to children
10062020 HOLIDAY.jpg
Bryannah Oakes, left, and LaCrecia McCree, right, help children pick out gifts at Family Promise's Christmas store in December 2019. Photo courtesy Family Promise of Hall County

Making sure children in need receive a Christmas gift has become more important than ever for several organizations in Hall County this year.  

“Like everyone, we wish that 2020 was a lot kinder,” Ari Mathe, local child welfare attorney said on behalf of Hall is Home for Kids. “We all need a little Christmas right this minute, and the kids involved in the child welfare system have been through the mill in this pandemic more than anyone else.” 

Hall is Home for Kids  

Hall is Home for Kids is a volunteer partnership among officials from the Hall County Division of Family and Children's Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Hall County Schools, the family court system, attorneys, local businesses, foster parents and other stakeholders in the child welfare system. 

Last year, Mathe said the partnership’s Hall is Home for the Holidays initiative provided Christmas gifts to over 450 foster kids in Hall County and hosted a holiday celebration at the Gainesville Civic Center, which drew over 650 foster children and their foster parents/caregivers.  

Because of the pandemic, Mathe said the event has been canceled; however, efforts are still being made to fulfill the wish lists of 450 foster kids of all ages. To adapt to the financial challenges 2020 has brought on businesses and individuals, donors are asked to contribute less. Mathe said last year people’s encouraged commitments was around $200 per list. This year has dropped to $125 for children 13 and older and $100 for 12 and younger. 

“We reduced our per list commitment in the hopes that folks will give abundantly and joyfully, and we’ll have a surplus to turn around to provide additional funds to caregivers,” Mathe said.  

By Nov. 1, Mathe said Hall is Home for Kids hopes to have the lists ready to send to donors. She said the personalized gifts should be ready for pickup and delivery for foster parents/caregivers at least one week before Christmas. 

To sponsor a wish list or make a monetary donation, visit hallishomeforkids.com. 

Other groups offering holiday support in 2020: 

Hall County’s Toys for Tots 

What: Toy drive for children ages 1-14 in Hall sponsored by Marine Corps League Detachment 665 

Sign up for assistance: Until Monday, Dec. 14, at gainesville-ga.toysfortots.org 

Required documents to receive toys: Proof of guardianship, valid email or phone number 

More info: gainesville-ga.toysfortots.org or gainesville.ga@toysfortots.org

Christmas Hope Ministry: Chattahoochee Baptist Association 

What: Provides Christmas gifts to children elementary age and older in Hall 

Sign up for assistance: Applications are no longer being accepted

More info: christmashope.wixsite.com/website or christmashopeministry@gmail.com 

Angel Tree: Salvation Army of Gainesville 

What: Initiative led by the Salvation Army to provide Christmas gifts for children in Hall 

Sign up for assistance: Applications are no longer being accepted

More info: saangeltree.org  

We Care Christmas Project 

What: Initiative led by the We Care Foundation to provide gifts to Hall County and Gainesville students in need 

Sign up for assistance: 5-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, and Wednesday, Oct. 28  at City Church Gainesville, 311 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville. Masks are required and no children are allowed. Photo identification, proof of guardianship, proof of Hall County residency, proof of income of all adults in household and a working phone number and email are required.  

More info: wecarehall.org or wecarechristmas@gmail.com 

Empty Stocking Fund 

For the first time since 1993, Mule Camp Market, run by the Gainesville Jaycees, has been canceled.  

Matt Smith, Gainesville Jaycees executive board member, told The Times in September that the city of Gainesville denied the event’s permit request. 

Mule Camp Market uses its sponsorships and vendor fees to support the community service group’s Empty Stocking Fund. Last year, Smith said the charity provided Christmas gifts to around 250 children in need throughout Hall. 

The Empty Stocking Fund helps fulfill kids’ holiday wish-lists, which include items like jackets, shoes and socks. Smith said children are chosen for the charity through recommendations from Hall County and Gainesville school counselors.  

Because Mule Camp Market won’t be the primary source of the fund, Smith said the Jaycees have adapted and looked toward other options. The community service group invites people to the fourth annual Carlos B. Elmore Golf Tournament on Friday, Oct. 23, at the Chicopee Woods Golf Course. Smith said donations coming in from the competition will help support the Empty Stocking Fund. For more information about the golf tournament, visit carlosbelmore.com

Naturally Posh Photography, located in downtown Gainesville, has stepped up to help the Jaycees raise money for the charity. Smith said the business is hosting a Halloween day session for kids dressed in costumes and plans to contribute most of the cost from each photoshoot to the Empty Stocking Fund. 

Community members are also encouraged to make monetary contributions by visiting gainesvillejaycees.org/about/projects/empty-stocking-fund

“We’re thankful for any kind of donations,” Smith said. “We’re going to work toward making this work. Our goal is to not decrease the amount of kids we normally serve.” 

Christmas Promise Store 

Family Promise of Hall County, a nonprofit that helps homeless children and their families, is still carrying on its Christmas Promise Store this year.  

Instead of offering aid free of charge, the shop gives families an opportunity to purchase gifts for their kids at a reduced price this Christmas season. Lynette Croy, the organization’s program coordinator, said Family Promise is still ironing out details for the store like COVID-19 precautions and gift prices, but she said the nonprofit has started accepting donations.  

Because of the organization’s new location on 3606 McEver Road in Oakwood, Croy said the store will be more spaced out, allowing for social distancing.  

In December 2019, she said 1,701 gifts were donated to the store, which served 150 families and 468 children in Hall. The nonprofit will soon provide a list of needed toys and gifts on its website.  

Croy said the store welcomes any Hall family in need.  

This year, the shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10, Friday, Dec. 11 and Saturday, Dec. 12.  

For more information about the Christmas Promise Store, visit familypromisehall.org

Regional events