By: The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center
We’ve heard it said time and time again: 2020 has been one of the most difficult years in recent memory for so many in Newport County, given the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent job losses. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center (MLK Center) predicts that putting food on holiday tables and toys under the tree will be especially difficult this year, for many of our Newport County neighbors.
The MLK Community Center is ready to meet the need with its annual Holiday Help programming. The Thanksgiving and Holiday food pantries offer holiday meal staples to registered individuals & families. The Santa’s Workshop Toy and Gift program is offered to any Newport County parent or guardian with children in the home, from infants to age 17, who are not registered for holiday help with any other agency or non-profit.
Like so many things during the age of COVID-19, Santa’s Workshop at the MLK will look a little different this year. Families will choose one gift and receive one gift card for children ages birth to 12 years, and will receive two gift cards for children ages 13 years – 17 years.
“This year has been a challenge for so many of our Newport County neighbors, to say the least,” said Heather Hole Strout, Executive Director of the MLK Community Center. “I think now more than ever, we need the happiness of holiday celebrations, but for many, it’s going to be even more of a struggle to make ends meet. We’re determined to still make the holidays this year merry and bright, but we need community support to make it happen.”
Registration for all Holiday Help programs is now open. Clients are encouraged to note this year’s earlier registration deadlines: Registration ends Nov. 10 (for Thanksgiving food pantry) and Nov. 20 (for Holiday food pantry & Santa’s Workshop), so please register early.
In 2019, 3,507 families prepared holiday meals with ingredients sourced from the MLK’s Thanksgiving food pantry. The same year, 947 kids from 422 families received holiday toys and gifts. Given economic changes brought on by the pandemic, we expect even more local people will look to the MLK for help in 2020.
This year, there is an increased need for donations of gift cards in $25 increments. Full Toy & Gift Wish List available on the Center’s website, on the righthand side. New and unwrapped toys and gifts can be donated at the Center’s loading dock, Mon – Fri 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, by November 30th at the latest. To hold a toy drive and schedule your donation date, contact Melanie at (401) 846-4828 x124, msaunders@MLKCCenter.org.
Newport County residents interested in the Thanksgiving food pantry, Holiday food pantry, and/or Santa’s Workshop should complete the registration form online. (All information is kept confidential.) Registration may also be completed over the phone or in-person by appointment only – no walk-ins will be accepted this year. Please contact Dezarae at (401) 846-4828 x118, dmcmillan@MLKCCenter.org. For more information and to register, visit MLKCCenter.org/holiday-help.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Only 2.8% of the Center’s total public support derives from municipal, state, or federal government funding sources.