GUILDERLAND — Albany County announced its targeted holiday gift program for needy families will go forward in its 35th year, though with some concessions to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pooled giving through an office setting is usually one of the better sources of support for the Adopt-A-Family program run by the Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families. Because it doesn’t want to use public drop boxes amid a public health crisis, and because so many offices are operating with reduced staffing, the county agency is partnering up with Crossgates Mall and will run the gift drive there.
Those interested in donating can pick up a wish list in the mall.
“As the holiday’s approaching, we know it’s been tough,” County Executive Daniel McCoy said Monday at a news conference in the mall. “People have been out of work, people are having a hard time paying rent, putting food on the table, so this program is more important than ever. … We need to show some light at the end of the tunnel for these families that are having a hard time paying the bills.”
Other Capital Region organizations that receive wish lists from needy families and invite donors to fill those lists also are going forward with their traditions this year. Among them:
- Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs has Adopt A Child/Family, open to Saratoga County residents.
- Northern Rivers Family of Services will run its Holiday Giving program again this year but with changes to reflect the COVID pandemic, including an option to make contact-free donations via online purchases at Amazon.
- Things of My Very Own in Schenectady has its Sponsor A Child in Crisis program.
Meanwhile, Toys for Tots also is underway now, with dozens of drop boxes already in place across the region. The program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve isn’t targeted to specific wishes, as with adopt-a-family programs, but it is huge, having distributed more than 18 million toys to more than 7 million children in 2019.
More details are available on each organization’s website.
Moira Manning, commissioner of the Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families, said donors can pick up a tag with a wishlist for a needy Albany County family on the upper level of Crossgates Mall near Best Buy from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 8 and 11; 12-6 p.m. Nov. 9 and 12; and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 10 and 13.
Dropoff is at the same times and location, or from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 21 in the mall’s overflow parking lot near the Tru By Hilton hotel.
McCoy said the program is needed more than ever this year. He noted it is particularly sad to see families requesting basic necessities of life rather than toys or games.
“It’s going to be more challenging this year than years prior because of that fact of what’s going on around us,” he said. “And this is going to continue unfortunately throughout the winter.”