Adopt a Family program leaders ready to pass the baton


Nancy McCluskey-Moore

Ken and Ellen Perkins are volunteers with serious staying power. Since 2007 they have been the driving force behind Adopt a Family, a program beloved by both SaddleBrooke residents and the families who have received hand-picked and carefully wrapped Christmas gifts. The program has grown dramatically over the past decade. Originally it entailed raising money to buy gifts for about 30 families in San Manuel, Mammoth and Oracle, plus 30 Apache children on the San Carlos Reservation. In recent years, the program has annually assisted about 100 families and 250 Apache children. Approximately six years ago, SaddleBrooke Ranch Residents offered their support, which has helped Adopt a Family grow to meet the needs of more children and families.

Ken and Ellen deserve the heartfelt gratitude of the many families they have helped, as well as admiration from the volunteers and donors they have inspired. Yet they are the first to say that Adopt a Family has always been a group effort. By leveraging the organizational resources of SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO), the tri-community schools, San Carlos elementary school, Tribal Social Services and every SaddleBrooke HOA unit they have been able to obtain wish lists for families and children, secure funding and recruit volunteers to shop, wrap and deliver the gifts. Support from these organizations eliminated overhead costs, allowing 100 percent of all donations to assist those in need.

The Perkins give high praise to the many people who have supported Adopt a Family over the years, including Terry Ross, Director of San Carlos Tribal Social Services and his counselors, Dr. Wilde (the former Superintendent of the San Carlos Schools) who extended the program to children in the Rice Elementary School and numerous teachers and counselors, especially Diedre DeHammer and Tom Schafer. Joyce McClung coordinated the Adopt a Family program for Mammoth and San Manuel for over 12 years. Katy Morris, secretary for the San Manuel elementary school; Lydia Smith, the Adopt a Family coordinator for Oracle elementary school and Tracy Gonzales, secretary for the Mammoth elementary school have all provided invaluable assistance.

John Young and Anne Everett (the former and current SBCO Treasurer) processed about 1,000 donation checks and SBCO volunteers issued thank you notes and tax receipts for those donations. Buying, wrapping and delivering thousands of presents to hundreds of families is a major undertaking that has required the support of donors and volunteers, as well as the use of the Kid’s Closet van and the Impact of Southern Arizona moving truck.

But all good things must come to an end – or at least change. While Ken and Ellen’s enthusiasm for Adopt a Family has not waned, they now want to keep up with grandchildren living on both coasts and manage their own health issues. They now look forward to enlisting a new volunteer with computer skills to coordinate the program and helping with the transition to ensure the program’s continued success. If you would like to become an Adopt a Family volunteer, please contact Ken and Ellen at [email protected] or 825-6570.