Shoals Area Families, a non-profit organization ran by Melissa Hargett of Ups & Downs Thrift Store, is helping a lot of families around the Shoals this holiday season.
Given the press time of this article I was in a rush to get this story put together. As such we had to settle for a quick phone interview while Melissa was delivery presents. I could hear the dedication in her voice as she was frantically searching for a home on her list. She told me that one Christmas she became so busy with deliveries that she forgot to buy herself a ham. She might have GPS on her side but Santa’s reindeer give him the edge. Regardless, I was thoroughly impressed with the thoughtless effort she is putting into Project Christmas.
Melissa, a Shoals-area native, spent twenty years in Tampa and when she returned wanted to give back to the community. In 2012 she began the project by helping several families, including one that lived in a trailer without electricity in the bitter cold winter weather. While many families are benefited by wonderful programs such as Angel Tree and Toys for Tots, not all families know they will need the assistance by the registration deadlines in November.
Melissa’s organization has provided assistance to families that are in immediate, dire need, including helping a father who was robbed at gunpoint and temporarily unemployed. She uses software to help screen applicants to ensure the money is going to those truly in need. Shoals Area Families provides a new pair of shoes, clothes, socks and underwear, and choice of toys to the kids while the family as a whole gets some much needed groceries.
They say Santa has many helpers, and Melissa and her staff at the thrift store are certainly no exception. With almost 25% of families in Florence living near or below poverty, the services provided by Shoals Area families and other organizations are a welcome relief.
Melissa has a Go Fund Me page setup if you wish to help with this noble and heroic effort. Shoals Area Families has a lot of wonderful outreach programs that we will be covering in a future article.
Since this will likely be the last story posted before Christmas, the staff at Shoals Daily want to wish you the most merry of Christmases for both you and your family. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and look forward to serving you in 2016!