Who are these families, and how do we know they are in need?

Families are referred to the program from community and social service agencies throughout Guelph and Wellington County. They are only referred if it is felt they are in need and could benefit from the program.

Each family referred to the Adopt-A-Family program is cross-checked with the Christmas Holiday Bureau, to ensure there is no duplication between families receiving support from the various holiday programs taking place within Guelph.

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Can I adopt a child instead of a family?

You cannot adopt an individual child, however we do have independent youth in our program. We define an Independent Youth as "someone up to and including the age of 20 years old who is living on their own without family ties and with limited support and resources." 

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Are there families for whom it is more difficult to find donors?

Yes. They typically include: 

  • Medium- to large-sized families
  • Families with teens
  • Families who have children with disabilities or special needs

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Will I get to know who my family is?

The Adopt-A-Family Program is a very personal way to support local families, however for the sake of privacy, the parent(s) and family surnames are kept confidential. You will receive the child(ren) first name(s), along with their age, sizes, favourite colour and a list of some needs and wishes.

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How do I become a donor?

To become a donor, or to adopt a family, you can sign up online in October at http://childrensfoundation.org/what-we-do/adopt-a-family/for-donors/become-a-donor. If you would like to be added to our donor reminder list, please contact us via email or by phone at 519-829-0855. 

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How much does it cost to adopt a family?

The cost to adopt a family depends upon the size of the family and the ages of the children. When you sign-up to be a donor, we will ask you for your budget and match you accordingly, or we may suggest other valuable ways you can donate such as purchasing a Special Item or donating grocery or gift cards.

When adopting a family, our expectations are that you provide:

  • A selection of items from each child's needs and wishes lists that are within your budget. Based on past experience with donors, we estimate the average spent is $175-$200 per child, in order to provide a selection of their needs and wishes. This can vary depending on the ages.
  • A $25 grocery gift card per person in the family, if requested (i.e. $100 for a family of four)
  • A small, token gift for parent(s)/guardian(s) (approx. value $25 per)  

For example: the estimated average cost of adopting a family of four (2 parents + 2 children) will be approximately $500-$550 based on the above factors.

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Are there other ways to help if I don’t want to sponsor a family?

Yes. There are many ways for you to help. Please call us at 519-829-0855, or email us at aaf@childrensfoundation.org to determine what might work best for you. Some options include:

  • Gift cards for grocery stores, drugstores, shopping malls, department stores, etc.
  • Gifts for teens, moms and dads (toiletries, gift baskets, gloves & scarves) 
  • Cash donations
  • Special request items such as strollers, car seats, and high chairs
  •  Donation of rolls of gift wrap

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Will I receive a charitable tax receipt for my donation?

Yes. You can receive a tax receipt for new items and gift cards, if you provide original sales slips. We will provide you with a charitable tax form to fill out and return with the sales slips when you drop off your gifts.

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If I don’t want a tax receipt do you need to know how much I spent?

Yes, that would be very helpful. As a charitable organization, the government requires that we track all cash and "in kind” donations. It is helpful if you tell us how much you spent, rather than for us to estimate.

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Will I receive a thank you card?

The beauty of the Adopt-A-Family program is that it is so personalized and donors know their efforts and support are going to a specific family. This extraordinary effort, which goes beyond a typical cash donation, creates feelings of attachment for many donors and it is understandable that they would want to hear back directly from their family as opposed to simply receiving a general thank-you from us at the Children’s Foundation.

While we do send a message with the gifts asking all families to send a thank you to their donor, they are not always able to do so.  We appreciate this may be disappointing for donors, however we encourage them to try to understand why that may be the case.

For many of the families who are referred by social agencies, parents are dealing with such things as mental health issues, trauma, literacy problems, language barriers, or most often, living in "survival mode”. For families in extreme poverty, they may be living in constant crisis around their basic needs. They may be trying to figure out where their next meal is coming from, or may be moments away from being homeless or having their utilities cut off. When in survival mode, unfortunately a thank you card does not make the top of their list.

Pride is also a big factor for families. Many do not actively seek out help for Christmas and are ashamed at being in their situation. It is their worker who encourages them as they know how significant the need is for the family. Sitting down to write a thank you card is another reminder that they could not provide Christmas for their own children and it is often easier and healthier for them to avoid it as it can bring up strong feelings of shame and depression.

We trust that the spirit of joy in giving is not truly diminished for our donors as their support and generosity is very much appreciated whether spoken or unspoken.

To read excerpts from Thank You cards, please CLICK HERE.




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How do I know what to buy?

A needs & wish list from the family is provided for your guidance. You do not have to purchase everything on the list, but it will provide you with suggestions for each member of the family. If you are unsure of what to purchase as a parent gift, or for teens on your list, you can provide a gift card: WalMart, Stone Road Mall, and various eateries are always good choices. If in doubt, you can also provide a gift receipt so that an item can be exchanged. This is particularly useful when you are purchasing clothing.

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I want to give my family everything on their list! Is this OK?

We know a lot of our donors want to make it the best possible Christmas for their 'adopted' family, and it would be wonderful if all children received everything on their wish list. However, this is rare for any family. We want the children to have a good Christmas, but remember that in future years, mom and dad may not be able to meet that same expectation of buying everything on the list. Try to maintain a balance in providing items the children have requested. If you are able to purchase more gifts, perhaps you might want to consider helping an additional family.

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Do I have to purchase a gift for the parent(s)?

Yes, we do ask that you provide a small gift such as toiletry items, chocolates, a winter scarf or gloves. Often the parents may not otherwise receive any gift at all, as their priority is to provide for their children first. It is also important for the children in the family to see that their parents are not left out and receive a gift as well. If you have reached the end of your spending budget though, we can always supplement the parent gift from our stock of donated items.

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Do I have to provide gift cards for food? Can I include food items with my gifts?

We ask donors to provide $25 per family member in grocery gift cards. In lieu of a food hamper, the grocery cards will allow the family the opportunity to purchase food for a holiday meal while making their own food choices that are meaningful for them.

A box of chocolates or other similar treat for the family is fine. Otherwise, please do not provide food items. If you wish to donate other food items, we suggest you take them to the local food bank.

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Will my family receive all the gifts that I buy for them?

Everything you purchase for your family goes to your family. On rare occasions, we may substitute a more suitable item for such things as incorrectly sized clothing.

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Where and when do I drop off the gifts?

When you are matched with a family, we will tell you when to drop off the gifts. Our gift delivery dates are staggered over three weeks from November 19 to December 12 approximately.

Our Adopt-a-Family location changes yearly, as we rely on the generosity of the community in finding a temporary home for the holiday period. You can see this year's location and hours by clicking here.

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How do my gifts get to the family?

We arrange for the referring social service agency to pick up the gifts from our Adopt-a-Family site and deliver the gifts discreetly to their families.

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What if I don’t have all the gifts purchased by my deadline?

It is important that you drop off the gifts by the date requested, as it helps us avoid a backlog of last minute deliveries to the families. With over 1,100 families referred to the program, we need to keep things moving along in a very short time-frame. Please contact us immediately should you require more time.  Keep in mind that the final date for donor drop-offs is December 12th. 

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Do I need to wrap the gifts?

No, please do not wrap your gifts. Our Adopt-a-Family elves will wrap the gifts if the family has requested. Some parents prefer to wrap the gifts themselves, often so they can feel like they've participated in some way in getting Christmas ready for their children. 

We always welcome a donation of wrapping paper to go with the gifts, and if you include wrapping paper we will either wrap your gifts with it or send it to the parent for wrapping.

Another suggestion is to drop off your gifts in small to medium reusable containers or cloth grocery bags. The families appreciate these useful items.

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Do you take donations of used furniture, toys and/or clothing?

No, not usually. When Adopt-A-Family began over 25 years ago, one of the cornerstones of the program was to provide new gifts for families who rarely, if ever, receive new items. For most of the families we help, this may be the only time the children receive a new piece of clothing or a new toy, and the social workers who refer them to the program still speak to this special quality of the program.

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Our group would like to do a toy drive. Can we donate the toys to Adopt-A-Family?

Absolutely! Toy and gift drives helps us to stock our Santa Shop, which we rely on to make sure every child receives a good selection of their needs and wishes. In addition, a well-stocked shop means we can meet the urgent needs of last-minute referrals right up to Christmas.

Please contact us in advance at 519-829-0855 or email aaf@childrensfoundation.org so that we can let you know what would be most helpful for us based on current needs. You can go to our donor sign-up page to get started.

While we are happy to accept Gift Drive donations at any time, please be aware that it is very helpful for us if we can receive the gift drive items by late November!


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