For the past 25 years, the Pacific area Adopt-a-Family program has provided Christmas packages for families that need assistance.

Last year, more than 500 families received individualized bundles a few days before Christmas.

Cleta Null and Barbara Stahlman started the program in 1992 by collecting used stuffed animals. With wide support, Adopt-a-Family grew into a major community donation, volunteer and gift program.

When Null announced her retirement in 2016, Elizabeth Forister accepted to take over as helm of the program.

Forister and a team of volunteers are beginning to accumulate donated items for the individual family Christmas bundles, but more are needed.

The organization works with the Meramec Valley R-III School District and Agape House to identify families in need. Any family that needs assistance, but is not a patron of the school district or Agape House, can contact Forister at 314-791-3649.

Every family member receives a new outfit. Children receive new coats, socks and underwear. Every child receives a new age-appropriate gift. Thanks to Walmart every child who asks for a bicycle receives one.

As donated items are received, volunteers fill bundles for each individual family member. Churches, schoolchildren and individual families hand wrap every gift.

Agape House provides food for the Christmas dinner that goes into the bundles.

In order to provide for each family, needed items include money, clothing in all sizes, and gifts. Adopt-a-family solicits funds in order to purchase any needed items that are not donated.

To donate funds, new clothing, or gifts, or to volunteer to assemble, wrap or deliver Christmas items, contact Elizabeth Forister at 314-791-3649 or e-mail People also can contact former chair Cleta Null, who is assisting this year, at 636-742-2244.