Lafayette

Dec 22, 2010 8:10 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Helping Hands for the Holidays

Many families could use a hand during the holidays. Some, are struggling with the basics of day to day living. So, a group of local organizations have joined forces to help those in need, in a big way. "Helping Hands for the Holidays" is a project by Stuller Family Foundation, Community Foundation, Covenant United Methodist Church, and 97.3 "The Dawg."

The group gives away over $30,000 of services to needy families every year. Here's how it works: Just after Thanksgiving, the radio station begins soliciting letters of nominations from the community of deserving families. Then, Stuller Foundation and Community Foundation raise the funds. And finally, Pastor Chris Blanchard at Covenant Methodist Church distributes the gifts, just in time for Christmas.

"It's always a crunch time with the church, family and Christmas season," said Rev. Blanchard. "But, it's not just the gifts, it's the people.Once you get to see one or two of these families, it makes it all worth while."

The gifts aren't your typical toys and cash. The group's goal is to provide necessities and services to help those struggling, get back on their feet.

"We never give anyone a check or cash," said Scott Brazda, with Stuller Foundation. "We always give to the service. It's similar to the old adage, 'Do you give a man a fish or do you help teach him to fish?'"

For example, Brazda says when families are struggling to pay bills, instead of giving them cash, they've paid the companies directly. Another example is if someone needed something in their house fixed. The group will give them a gift certificate to a home improvement store.

"This is just an expression of love that somehow, I hope, gives comfort and encouragement to those families," said Rev. Blanchard. "That ,there are resources around to help them and maybe one day they won't be in a position of need, they'll be in a position of giving."

Local businesses, and individuals also contribute to the cause by making monetary donations and providing services.

"You know, Acadiana, we have some of the most giving people in the world," said Brazda. "It's an amazing program. It's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done."

"Helping Hands" says they were able to help about 25 families this Christmas. They say the program will probably continue, as long as there is a need.

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