The Gwinnett Holiday Clearing House began 30 years ago as a cooperative effort of several agencies of a group that a few years later became to be known as the Gwinnett Community Council. The Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS), the Salvation Army, the Health Department, and Economic Opportunity Atlanta (EOA) took the leading roles in formation and have remained supportive of the program to the current time. The focus of the effort was and is to provide holiday assistance to Gwinnett families who have little or no resources for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In 1997 the members of Gwinnett Community Council expressed their belief, through a majority vote, that Holiday Clearing House (HCH) needed to pursue its own separate non profit status. Over the years, Community Council has initialized other Gwinnett benevolence projects that addressed specific issues, and as they grew and gained support in the community, released them in the same fashion to stand alone. Two of these ongoing and productive past Community Council projects are The Partnership Against Domestice Violence and Barrier Free Gwinnett. HCH’s expanding scope and increasing volume spoke loudly that it too needed to be released to reach its full potential.
During the months of October, November, and December, families who meet the program’s eligibility guidelines fill out an application to receive assistance for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. All approved applicants receive complete boxes of food and gifts through either an assigned private sponsor or direct delivery by HCH volunteers. The majority of families given holiday assistance are clients of DFCS; an agency who could not possibly provide the level of coordinated holiday help to families in need that they receive from HCH. DFCS is completely dependent on this program in this area of function.
Each year the amount of applications for HCH assistance increases. The donations received each year from the community are generous, but usually must be stretched thinner than the level of assistance that really should be afforded each home. The goal of the Director, the board, and the supporting Gwinnett agencies of the HCH is increased service, initially for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, but also moving in the direction of year round assistance in other areas. We feel that by working with agencies, ministries, and outreaches throughout the county (most of whom already interact with the program) in a coordinating and cooperative effort, we can open the door to the community at large to become more involved in helping their own neighbors.