Community Ombudsman: Zepf Center needs donations for its holiday storeWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Josie Allen cannot afford to buy much for her family at Christmas. Everyone is limited to one gift each.
But last year her family was selected to participate in the Zepf Center’s Adopt-a-Family program, so her children received multiple gifts.
They opened sweat suits, games and even received a PlayStation 2.
“I would not have been able to provide that,” Allen said.
These gifts were possible because two of her teenage daughters (one is a relative whom she considers a daughter) receive services at the Zepf Center, which provides behavioral health and vocational help to youth and adults with mental illness.
The nonprofit also hosts a holiday store as part of its December outreach. Donations are still needed for the store, as well as a volunteer to play Santa on Dec. 19.
I learned more about the Zepf when my sister began to work there. Last year, I helped adopt one of the 40 families. This year, I am having my BGSU students collect hygiene products like toilet paper, toothbrushes and shampoo for the holiday store.
Families who are selected to participate can shop for new and used clothes and toys, as well as the hygiene products I am gathering. Video games, DVDs, crafts and Hello Kitty merchandise are some of the most-requested items. Everything is free.
Zepf employee Kim Middleton said for some clients and their families this is the only resource for celebrating the holidays.
“Last year, with the help of Toys for Tots, we were able to provide over 200 children with two new toys for each client and their siblings in the household,” Middleton said in an email.
Zepf was able to provide families with new and gently used household items, as well as cleaning supplies.
Things that most people consider everyday necessities are luxuries to some Zepf families, Middleton said.
“One mother was overjoyed because we were able to give each family a new laundry basket filled with laundry detergent, food and paper products. She was so excited over a four-pack of toilet tissue, I thought she was going to cry,” Middleton said.
To donate, drop off items at the Zepf Center, 6605 W. Central Ave., or at its 905 Nebraska Ave. location. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.