PALMYRA, Mo. -- At least 60 children in the Palmyra and Philadelphia areas will have a happier holiday season thanks to the Adopt-a-Child program.
The program, sponsored by the Palmyra Area Ministerial Alliance, provides Christmas gifts to children up to age 18 from disadvantaged homes in the Palmyra R-1 School District and the Marion County R-II School District.
The gifts are provided by local residents, churches and businesses willing to fulfill some of the children's wants and needs.
Under the program, low-income families fill out confidential applications listing the ages of children who would benefit from the program. The applications, which were due Friday, will then go to a review committee and be assigned case numbers.
Then this coming Thursday at 6:30 p.m., anyone who wants to help can attend a meeting at First Christian Church in Palmyra to "adopt" one or more of the cases.
Nancy Goellner, chairman of First Christian Church's Outreach Committee, which is hosting the event this year, said the needs and wants of each child will be spelled out on numbered tags displayed at the meeting. People willing to help the cause "can take as many tags as they want."
People also can call the church afterward at 573-769-2504 to ask about cases still available for adoption.
The participants will then go out and buy Christmas presents specified on the tags. Each gift should be gift wrapped with the tag taped to the outside. All gifts should then be dropped off at Palmyra High School between 1 and 3 p.m. on Dec. 20, which is "distribution day."
Goellner said the gifts will then be sorted on tables, and representatives of the families will come by to pick up the children's gifts between 4 and 6 p.m. that day.
Goellner said the Adopt-a-Child program fills a vital role in helping to make Christmas brighter for many area families.
"There is definitely a need, and this is a way that we can help out families," she said.
"That way, the parents have something to give the kids on Christmas morning where they might not otherwise have been able to. They're so appreciative. And the kids are going to remember it forever. The kids are going to know they had a good Christmas, and that means the world."
This annual program has been operating in the Palmyra/Philadelphia area for more than 20 years. It was originally called "Adopt-a-Family," but the name was changed to "Adopt-a-Child" in 2016 when organizers decided to put more emphasis on helping children.
"We want the kids to have a happy Christmas," Goellner said.
Families aren't left out, however. Donations to the program also are used to buy baskets containing food, cleaning supplies and other household needs that are given to parents when they pick up the children's gifts.
"It's a wonderful program," Goellner said. "We have great support from the community."
Anyone wishing to help can make out a check to the Palmyra Area Ministerial Alliance and mail it to Adopt-a-Child in care of First Christian Church, P.O. Box 494, Palmyra, MO 63461.