Worcester GOLD Campaign Marks 15 Years

SNOW HILL — Worcester GOLD (Giving Other Lives Dignity) is in the midst of its 15th season of “Helping Hands for the Holidays” and is looking to provide gifts to roughly 1,000 people.

Concentrating mostly on providing gifts to children, Helping Hands also covers what Worcester GOLD Executive Director Darlene Onley referred to as “vulnerable adults” including many elderly.

During the Christmas season, GOLD compiles a wish list of gifts desired by clients. While it takes a referral to join GOLD, Onley explained that the referral can come from a number of sources, including social workers and the school system.

Like many non-profit organizations, especially during the holidays, Onley said that GOLD needs community support.

“We do depend upon volunteers,” she said.

The need is perhaps greater for GOLD than many others, since it operates with little paid staff. According to Onley, there are only one and a quarter employees.

“We get a lot of bang for our buck,” she joked.
Without much staff, GOLD relies on volunteers who want to get involved in the community.

“There are a dozen or more just popping in at different times,” Onley said of GOLD’s volunteer force.

Still, she said that there’s always room for more, especially around the holidays. “We try to match a family with a family,” said Onley.

Each volunteer family is responsible for providing gifts their selected family, usually in person.

“When you get a sponsor, the sponsor comes right to your home … people just really enjoy doing it,” Onley said.

Unfortunately, there usually aren’t enough sponsor families for every family in need. If that happens, GOLD uses any additionally money that’s been donated to Helping Hands to purchase Wal-Mart gift cards. Using those cards, and with the help of volunteers, Onley and her staff buy whatever remains on the wish list.  “That’s how we serve every single one,” she said.

Besides the Helping Hands program, GOLD operates throughout the year. Last year, GOLD supplied more than 182 Easter baskets, 165 turkeys and food baskets for Thanksgiving. GOLD also assisted 590 people with utility bills, 386 with food, 291 with rent, and they gave out more than 150 winter coats with the help of the Elks’ Club.

“We try to make life, especially for children in this county, as normal as possible,” said GOLD Vice President Rick Krall.

For more information, call Onley at 410-632-6830.