Who We Serve
Our annual Holiday Shop, established in 1977, is held the first week in December at a donated location in Johnson County. Qualified low-income residents are scheduled by appointment to select groceries, toys, gifts, personal care items, and clothing for their families assisted by volunteers. Clients are referred by SRS, Catholic Community Services, Johnson County Human Services, Johnson County Mental Health, El Centro, schools, religious organizations and other agencies. All merchandise provided is new with the exception of gently worn coats and books. At the 2012 Holiday Shop, 3,461 families (12,965 individuals) were served during a nine day period in December. In addition, 642 nursing home residents were served. Clients reside in every zip code in Johnson County.
The program benefits low-income families and individuals at holiday time by providing food and gifts. This time of year incomes are stretched and for many of our clients, this is the only help they receive for the holidays. Other social service agencies have discontinued their “adopt a family” programs. In order to concentrate on year-round needs, our sister agencies have eliminated their holiday assistance programs. As a result, demand for JCCB's services has swelled. Over 86% of our clients are women and children and 11% are under the age of 2.
Annually, we review our program to make necessary changes regarding the goods we provide, the quantities, and the way the shop is organized. The basic shop remains the same providing a “department store-like” environment for our clients.
In September, applications to shop are mailed to qualified residents of Johnson County. Completed applications are returned to the Christmas Bureau for scheduling of appointments. We also distribute applications to Catholic Community Services, multi-purpose centers, Johnson County Health Department, El Centro and Head Start. Posters and applications are taken to senior citizen high-rise locations to reach the elderly population. In 2011, all appointments were filled by late October, and unfortunately, over 400 families were declined our services.
Our standards for client qualification are 150% of the current poverty level guidelines, and those who qualify through SRS programs. While these are our basic guidelines, need can also be determined on a case-by-case basis. A nominal dignity fee is charged for gifts, ranging from $3 - $10, depending on the size of the family. Clients are not turned away if they are unable to pay.