(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Pikes Peak United Way and Harrison School District 2 (D2) in Colorado Springs are working together to provide some holiday cheer and are looking for volunteers to adopt families from 19 schools this holiday season.

“Things are hard right now,” explained Elizabeth Quevedo, Director of Community Impact at Pikes Peak United Way. “Everything is more expensive. Groceries are more expensive, utilities, rent and so when you have children and you want to provide a magical Christmas for them, sometimes it can be nearly impossible.”

The Adopt-A-Family program is back this year and more than 200 families are participating. All families were chosen by each school’s administrative teams.

“You have a real opportunity to make a true difference to a family,” said Quevedo. “We had a mom last year who asked for door locks because she didn’t live in a safe community and she wanted to keep her children safe and to ask for someone to give you locks for your doors. It really makes you think about the meaning of Christmas and giving back and taking care of your neighborhood.”

By signing up here, people can learn more about each family, their personal situation, and what to buy for the holiday season. On Pikes Peak United Way’s website, the community can read the story of each family nominated by their school, learn a little bit about them, and see what their wants and needs are.

“If you feel so moved, you can go ahead and adopt them from there,” Quevedo said.

Some requests are simple, items like travel mugs or shoes. While other families ask for more complicated items depending on their size or situation.

“We’ve had cribs, we’ve had all sorts of household items, lots and lots of bicycles,” Quevedo explained. “Last year I think we had 60 bicycles lining the halls, it’s pretty magical.”

In 2022, more than $270,000 in gifts were donated to 235 adopted families.

“We see families just overwhelmed and in tears and so joyful when they just realize that the holiday has been provided to them and that somebody really cares about them,” said Christine O’Brien, Public Information Officer at D2. “I think that’s the important thing, is that our community sees that despite how hard they’re working and they’re maybe not able to provide everything they wish they could provide, that the family is supported by people in our community who come together and value them.”

In the past, large families have been adopted by corporations, book clubs, and other organizations, or the community can sponsor a smaller family and adopt just a parent and a child.

With less than 50 days until Christmas, there’s not much time to check your list twice.

“I mean start now,” Quevedo said. “Pick your family, pick the one that resonates most closely to you and what you feel passionate about, and then take advantage of all the sales that are happening.”

Donors can drop off their gifts at the Pikes Peak United Way Family Success Center at 1520 Verde Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80910. Donations will be accepted on Tuesday, Dec. 5, and Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re hoping all of these families are adopted before Thanksgiving to allow our donors time to shop and then drop off the gifts, so I would say pick your family now,” O’Brien said.

You can learn more about the 2023 Adopt-A-Family program including how to sign up at the link at the top of this article.