Nancy Hallman believes it’s important the next generation learns the importance of helping the people in our community.
Hallman is the chairwoman of the KW Sertoma Club, an international philanthropic organization. Among their many fundraisers, each year they run their Christmas Miracle program, where community members and organizations can sponsor a child or family in need.
“I taught my grandson. He’s 25 now, but when he was seven we had a shop for a family, and I told him it was for a boy the same age as him,” she said. “He was a little upset because I wouldn’t buy anything for him, but I said no, next time I go shopping, it’ll be for you. But this is for this little boy who doesn’t have anything. And he’s been sponsoring the KW Sertoma Club ever since.”
They typically get the names of families and children in need from the Christmas Bureau, after which they call the parents to see what they would like for Christmas -- usually three or four different kinds of toys, including specialty items like sensory toys, if the family needs them.
“And then about 10 years ago, I decided that we need to have some clothing, because you can only have so many toys. So a lot of parents ask for snow suits, winter clothing, PJ's, track pants, shirts, underwear, socks, and things that they do need. And even bed sheets and pillows,” she said. “In fact, one year somebody even needed a bed.”
They then send the wishlist to the sponsors, who bring the gifts back to the club's store at the Frederick Street Mall. When the gifts are wrapped, with the children’s names on them and signed from Santa, the families come pick them up.
Last year, they sponsored 197 children in the community. This year, that number is already up to 246 kids. Initially they had had more sponsors than names of families, so they contacted some of the schools in the region to get names of families “who normally don’t want to ask for help,” she said. “And the names are still coming in. I’ve had so many families that have called for help.”
Hallman said the pandemic has contributed to the increase in families needing help this year: “there are a lot of people who have lost their jobs.”
“It is so important for the community to sponsor a child, whether it's with our organization or any other organization, as long as they get the help,” she said.
The club has been running the Christmas Miracle program for more than 50 years. When she joined 30 years ago, there were about 40 members. Now, she says they are down to around 11.
“And some of them are older, so there are only about five of us doing this program. And so we have other volunteers, some of our friends have come in and helped us which is awesome.”
“I think it's so important to do something in the community for the people who are less fortunate. And not to judge them for who they are, what they do or whatever. Sometimes it just helps them to get on with their life and to feel a lot better about themselves.”
Their shop is located at 385 Frederick Street at the Frederick Street Mall. To find out more about the Sertoma Club and their Christmas Miracle Program, visit their website.