The nonprofit Columbia Caring for our Community Foundation is continuing its mission to “provide food, clothing, holiday gifts and educational supplies to students in need” this year.
The group, a partnership between the Columbia School District and Columbia Police Department, officially formed in 2017 with the goal of providing “comfort and joy” to Columbia’s children.
It is working to do that again this year, though things have looked a little different because it cannot hold its largest fundraiser.
Normally, the nonprofit raises around $2,000 for purchasing gifts for children by caroling throughout the town, but canceled that event because of the pandemic.
Foundation Vice President Kelly Landgraf, however, said she is not concerned about the money.
“We knew that we were going to be a little short on money this year, but we live in one of the most giving, generous communities,” Landgraf said. “With the support of the police department behind us and them advertising what we’re doing, we know our citizens always just step up to any opportunity to help others. We feel very blessed to have the citizens always step up and donate.”
Other than that and buying more gifts for children in need, Landgraf, who also teaches at Columbia Middle School, said there have been very few changes to the charity’s operations this year.
The need has likewise remained unchanged, as 15 families have requested help making Christmas special for their children. That is roughly equal to the 17 families the nonprofit helped last year.
The foundation identifies those families through the social workers in the Columbia School District and by talking with Monroe County House of Neighborly Service and Immaculate Conception School to see if they know of other Columbia residents in need.
The foundation has wish lists for all the children it plans to help. It collects donations of items and money to purchase those gifts, which it then wraps.
The CPD distributes the presents. The entire process is confidential.
The foundation is planning to deliver gifts on Dec. 20 this year, so people who want to help out for this Christmas must do so before then.
But Landgraf pointed out the nonprofit helps families year-round.
“We have people donate 365 days a year. It does not have to be a Christmas gift,” she said. “We always find a happy child for the treat.”
Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the CPD at 1020 N. Main Street or the Columbia CUSD#4 District Office at 5 Veterans Parkway. Checks should be made payable to Columbia Caring for Our Community.
Visit the CPD’s Facebook page or call the department at 281-5151 for more information.