AFL-CIO has around five artificial Christmas trees on hand for families in St. Joseph that do not have a tree. If they run out, they will add families to the waiting list.

Almost 750 local families applied for holiday assistance this year for the AFL-CIO’s annual Adopt-A-Family program.

The 746 applications submitted by the deadline are up from last year’s number of 736, but below the record year of 1993, which had 1,192 families apply. All these numbers are kept by the program’s executive director, Penny Adams.

“We’ve been very fortunate every year,” Adams said. “Every family has been adopted in some fashion, either by personally being selected or being adopted through the agency.”

A number of individuals and businesses already have signed on to help those in need, leaving 373 families that still need to be adopted.

AFL-CIO has family profiles inside books, which can be reviewed. Adopters also can let the agency know how large of a family they’d like to adopt and AFL-CIO will give them profiles to review.

“We’ve had a lot of adopters come in and say, ‘I have $50 to spend, is that enough?’” Adams said. “Sure it is, because we have lots of tiny, you know, small families — a parent with one child, and the younger the child, the less expensive.”

The only thing AFL-CIO asks of adopters is that they purchase one new toy for each child. Gifts for parents are optional, and so is providing food for the family.

Family profiles include shoe and clothing sizes, as well as other details to help purchase accurate gifts.

“If a person has the time to spend adopting a family, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s where the monetary donations come in,” Adams said. “We will buy gift certificates to supplement the families that don’t get gifts from the agency.”

The Adopt-A-Family program through AFL-CIO began in 1982, and to date, the agency has never had to turn any families away who have applied to be a part of the program.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached


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