Adopt and shop in 2020!

Ceason Ranson
Ranson Ritings
Jackson Newspapers

My first hazy memories of being involved in Adopt-a-Family take me back to my years at Ripley High School, and when my math honor society, Mu Alpha Theta, adopted a family. This is entertaining because I am not a math person. I struggled from pre-Algebra on (despite the excellent attempts of Mr. Pauley, Mrs. Parker, Mr. Miller, Mr. Wallen, Mrs. Byers, and Mrs. Adkins, who not only let me in MAT, but also pity-passed me in Pre-Cal, lol), so it’s amazing that they not only let me, a person who still doesn’t remember what part of the fraction to flip when dividing, into a math honorary society, but also elected me Vice President. Which is just proof that in even the least important elections, the least qualified still somehow get elected.

But Mu Alpha Theta, when not honoring people for unearned math achievements, did a lot of service projects, and one year, we decided to adopt a family from Ripley Rotary. So after picking one out and shopping on our own, the members congregated at my house for a fun wrapping party, where we compared presents, talked about our own Christmases, and did NOT discuss math. And on drop-off day, we left our presents with Rotary and went about our day feeling a little more Christmas-y inside.

Since then, my family has adopted a family just about every year. In fact, it became one of our most cherished family rituals: we’d devote an entire day to shopping for our family. We’d do the boring clothing part, then go wild in Toys-R-Us, where my dad would invariably insist that whatever children we had needed to have the most magical Christmas of all time. So we’d load up a cart of everything they asked for, and then we’d have lunch somewhere and talk about how we hoped our family enjoyed their gifts.

Especially as my brother and I got older and Santa stopped coming around (full disclosure: Santa did not stop coming to our house till I was well into my late 20s, because my mother said if she found out we didn’t believe in Santa, he and his presents would stop coming. I may not be able to do Geometry proofs, but I can do Gift Math, and Gift Math asks the theorem “Which is worth more: your grown-person pride or that flat-screen TV?” Spoiler alert: I got an “A” in Gift Math.), Adopt-a-Family was a way to bring some magic back to Christmas, a way to give to people who really were surprised by what was under the tree, and who really appreciated it.

And twenty years later, it still is all those things. Adopt-a-Family has been around a long time, starting back when the Ripley Jay-Cees were still here. It’s helped thousands of children get winter clothing and a few gifts under the tree. It’s been a way for parents who have had a hard year get a little help when they need it. It’s one of the programs in our community that perfectly encapsulates our JCO culture: when you can give, you do. And when past adoptees are able, they’ve come back into the program as adopters, to help someone else they way they’ve been helped before.

This year, Rotary is adapting Adopt-A-Family to make it not only more COVID-safe, but to also make sure that every child who is adopted gets what they need, and a few gifts that they want. The 2020 Christmas Bundles program is going to make sure every child gets warm clothing and a few gifts, and each family gets a food card for a Christmas dinner. We’re hoping sticking to the Christmas Bundle checklist makes it easy on our adopters to stick to those basics when they’re shopping, because we also want to be mindful that Adopt-A-Family is a volunteer program, and our adopters are generously taking on the role of Santa for children in need. You only need to hear the “thanks” of the adoptees on pick-up day to know you’ve done a really good thing for the JCO community by becoming an adopter.

As of this writing, we still have 80 children that are available for adopting for 2020. If you’re interested in being a 2020 adopter, you can contact me at ripleyrotary@gmail.com: I’ll email you the application spreadsheet, you can pick your family, and I’ll email you back the application packet. Then you just get your Christmas Bundle together, and then drop it off on Drop Off Day in December, where the Rotary elves will make sure it makes it into our adoptee’s grateful hands.

And speaking of grateful, I just want to take a minute to sincerely thank everyone who has already picked out their families this year, as of this writing: Epworth United Methodist, Calvary United Methodist, Fairplain Union, Victory Church, Constellium, I- 77 Auto Group, Hersman and Associates, Connect Hearing, Sizemore Insurance, United Bank, Premier Bank, Faithful and Free, Shawn Miller with State Farm, Crihfield Farms, Benefits Assistance WV, Fairplain Yacht Club, Swann’s Tires, the Greene Center, Adams Fisher & Chappell, BB&T (now Trust), Rick Miller’s Used Cars, WVU- Jackson General Hospital, and all our private adopters.

Not to get sappy, but every time someone texts, messages, or emails me, asking for a family to adopt this year, I feel like how George Bailey must have felt hearing the bell that told him Clarence got his wings – it just lifts up my soul and reminds me that the first gift I ever got in this world was being born in Jackson County, a place full of citizens that see people who need a hand and lifts them up. Adopt-A-Family is the embodiment of that cultural spirit, and this year, when we need some Christmas spirit the most, I’m so thankful for everyone who are spreading that Christmas magic by being an adopter. So if you haven’t adopted your family, send me an email at ripleyrotary@gmail.com, or contact us on the Ripley Rotary Facebook page, and be a part of the long tradition of Jackson Countians who have brought Christmas to a child in need.

And kids who think you’re too cool for Santa, before you make that statement to your mom, do some Gift Math, and saying nothing adds up to “more presents,” then instead ask her to mail your Santa letter for you. Gift Math says you get extra candy in your stocking for saying cute things like that.