Most of us have an organization or two in our community that provides essential services and hope for homeless and at-risk people. This might be a Family Promise chapter, a Union Gospel Mission, or a grass-roots nonprofit like our own Storyteller Children’s Center or Transition House here in Santa Barbara.


You are likely familiar with Adopt-a-Family signups during the holidays. But what about the rest of the year? How can you help? Here are some ideas for helping homeless and at-risk families using our Signup Tool:


Create an Adopt-a-Family signup:


As we transition into the summer:

You could gather games and supplies for outdoor activities, summer clothes such as shorts and swimsuits, and passes to local museums and camps.


Prior to the start of school:

Think school supplies, a new backpack, shoes, a jacket for the fall, gift certificates to tutoring services, gift certificates to get a haircut…


For families stricken by natural disasters like floods or hurricanes:

Gather basic supplies like toiletry kits, under garments, non-perishable foods, gas cards, gift cards to Target and Costco. You can coordinate with local Red Cross or FEMA units to work out the details.



Here’s an example of an Adopt-a-Family signup.


And here is a video tutorial showing you how to create an Adopt-a-Family signup.



We recommend creating a number for each family. This way you can ask those signing up to adopt a family/family member to label each gift/donation with the family number. When it comes time to collect all of the items, you can then ensure that the right family receives the right gifts/donations, all while keeping the family names private.


As you can see from our video tutorial, we also suggest that you add a Collect Money List at the bottom of your signup. This way, if people cannot adopt a family/family member, but would still like to contribute, they may do so. You can use the funds to cover any person who is not “adopted” or to purchase other items for the families.