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Xmas DecoHALO Inc., which runs an adopt-a-family program for needy families to receive Christmas presents in the Racine area, is seeing the highest number of families in need for the past eight years.

Just under 100 families were approved to receive presents through program and they still need to find donors for 15 families, said Stephanie Kober, family program director for HALO.

Racine-based HALO provides homeless assistance for needy families, but to qualify for the adopt-a-family program families don’t need to be homeless. However, the families do need to show proof of having a low income.

“This year we did see more intact families with moms and dads with children,” Kober said. “They’ve been hit hard and the story I’ve gotten from most is that they weren’t working because of the job market. That’s different — seeing more intact families — normally we see single-parent families.”

The number of families qualifying for the program that have larger families has also increased as 10 of the 95 families have eight members or more. Of those 15 families left to shop for, one has 10 members in the family, Kober said.

“Someone living on W-2 will still only get $653 a month even completing all of the requirements in the program — like with their work search,” Kober said. “So no matter what the family size, if you are paying rent there’s not a lot left over.”

Still, Kober said the program keeps a close eye on local rummage sale websites to make sure participants aren’t trying to reap financial gain from the program.

One person from the program last year sold some of the donated items on a local rummage sale site, which Kober is the administrator for and the person requested to be in the program this year, but she was denied.

“I actually shopped for and personally wrapped those presents, so I know they were the same ones that we gave them,” Kober said.

With the greater need, however, more first-time donors are stepping up to help, Kober said.

“With so many new donors, groups are taking more than one family,” Kober said. “They are taking two or three families. I know one group at SC Johnson does the same thing. They have a wrapping day and they wrap all of the gifts together, so they make it fun.”

The program asks donors to buy Christmas presents for the whole family and spend about $25 to $50 per person and drop off the wrapped gifts by Dec. 22.

If you are interested in becoming a donor, email Stephanie at

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.