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When is giving, getting something back in return?

Oftentimes a charity donor's only reward is the personal gratification of knowing their generosity has helped others.

SERVE, Inc., has developed a donation option that gives donors an opportunity to give and to honor someone they know at the same time.

The contributions - called special memorial tributes - directly support the agency's Adopt-a-Family Christmas program, which provides low-income families in Callaway County with holiday meal baskets, gifts for the household and hope for the holidays.

“If someone is struggling with what to get a co-worker, a boss, a friend or relative, adopting a family in their honor can be a wonderful gift,” said Julie Lander, program director for SERVE's Callaway Action Network. “The option can take a lot of the stress out of holiday shopping, while also providing hope and joy to those in need.”

The concept already has gained local popularity.

Larry Languell of Tebbetts made a monetary donation in remembrance of his former Odd Fellow Lodge brother, Marvin Stock, who recently died.

“The lodge always gives at this time of year, but since Marvin just passed a few months ago and his brother Calvin still belongs to the organization, we (the lodge) thought it would be a nice gesture to make in his memory,” Languell explained.

Languell said Stock - a long-time member of Tebbetts Odd Fellow Lodge No. 596 - lived and farmed in Callaway County most of his life, and cared about his community.

“He would have considered this an excellent opportunity to help humanity,” Languell added.

Mary Beth Books of Williamsburg is sponsoring a family in honor of her children, Jason, Jennifer and Lydia Books.

“I have done this (adopted a family) for a couple of years and I think the seed was planted (to honor her children) when my daughter-in-law decided that this year our family didn't need anything for Christmas, and that instead we should give to others who are less fortunate,” Books explained.

Books said her family has been blessed in many ways, and her daughter-in-law's selflessness is what guided her decision to make the donation in her children's honor.

“My daughter-in-law is a beautiful person with a generous heart,” Books noted. “The thought of a single parent not being able to give their child something for Christmas is unbearable.

“For us, sharing what you have is the whole reason for the season,” she said.

These are only two of about a half dozen other people who have made memorial contributions, Lander said. She hopes the numbers continue to increase.

“Administering this program is always a humbling experience and reaffirms my belief in the goodness of people,” Lander said. “Whatever the reason someone chooses to participate and give (to the program), the end result is that people in need receive food, gifts and hope.”

The SERVE Adopt-A-Family Christmas program provides an anonymous connection between donors and families in need.

Currently, 123 families have been adopted. Unfortunately, the agency only has enough funds to sponsor 57 of the remaining 177 households still needing help, Lander said.

For more information about the memorial tributes or the Adopt-A-Family program, you may call Lander at (573) 642-6388 or visit the SERVE office at 4901 County Road 304 in Fulton.

All contributions are tax deductible, and pledges also are welcomed. The deadline to adopt a family is Dec. 8.

The Fulton Sun

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