The Adopt-A-Family Program began in 1990 at the old St. Vibiana Cathedral by the then, newly installed rector and pastor Monsignor Terrence Fleming, who wanted to build upon an existing Cathedral Christmas Basket Program that provided dinner and toys to children in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood area, donated by the parish priests and parishioners. Recognizing the great challenges faced by families with children in the area, the new program was designed to bring the magic and spirit of Christmas to as many Skid Row families with children as possible. The lives of children living on Skid Row was most bleak, residing in hotels and apartments often crowded in one room units with brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and other family members. Surrounded by drug dealing, prostitution, violent crime and poverty, there were very few comforts and often little joy. Very few had refrigerators; fewer had stoves; and bathroom and kitchen facilities were often down the hall and shared with neighbors. Now two decades later, the program has expanded to the entire area of downtown Los Angeles, encountering families faced with the same challenges found on Skid Row.
Through the Adopt-A-Family Program, volunteers personally visit struggling families to identify their individual needs as well as what the children would like for Christmas. Then on Delivery Day, volunteers return to the homes with food, toiletries, blankets, books, baby care items and clothing for the entire family. In addition, toys and games are provided to the children with much needed diversion and recreation. For these families, the anticipation of a joyous Christmas celebration is a light of hope in what can be a very dark and challenging existence.
Through an ever expanding donor base, the Adopt-A-Family Program has grown steadily, as more and more people have committed themselves to this noble cause each holiday season. A significant change was in the sponsorship element which gave donors an opportunity to “adopt” families and provide gifts, which increased the quantity and quality of items to the gift boxes and added clothing and gifts for parents.
Since 1990, the Adopt-A-Family Program has helped over 11,000 families, with food, clothes and toys. Now held at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the program is preparing for another successful delivery day scheduled for Saturday, December 15th. This success has only been possible through the generosity of people willing to open their hearts and provide resources necessary to make the Christmas holiday possible for those less fortunate.