Hundreds of schools, churches, businesses, and community volunteers participate in MEND’s annual holiday program. Each family is home-visited to assess needs and the most needy are recommended for adoption by community groups who provide household items and extra gifts. The remaining families – who meet federal poverty guidelines – come to the MEND Center on assigned days in December to select a new gift/toy for their children, receive new blankets and generous boxes of food for Christmas dinner. In 2016, MEND served approximately 1,300 families, helping over 4,800 individuals. Several hundred corporations, schools, churches and community groups conducted food, toy and blanket drives for the program.
To get involved, volunteer or learn more, visit the Christmas Basket Program page.
Every August, approximately 200 third graders from a local elementary school start the school year off with new shoes, backpacks and school supplies at the MEND Center. This annual back-to-school event also provides free dental screenings, flouride treatments and vision exams with the help of volunteer medical professionals and Disney VoluntEARS.
Twice yearly, approximately 80 new and expectant mothers attend a baby shower hosted by MEND. The shower includes a luncheon, raffle, distribution of car seats, clothing and other infant care items. The attendees also benefit from workshops on parenting and other resource information that are designed to support MEND families with young children.
Local teenage girls are welcomed at the Center each year to receive a formal outfit for their prom, school dance and/or upcoming graduation. In addition to choosing an outfit, the girls also get their hair and make-up done by a professional hair and make-up artist. They also attend a professional development workshop focusing on empowerment and self-esteem.