Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WORKERS HERE SCRAMBLE TO FULFILL WISHES Series: 100 NEEDIEST CASES

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WORKERS HERE SCRAMBLE TO FULFILL WISHES Series: 100 NEEDIEST CASES

Article excerpt

The spirit of getting filled the halls of the 100 NEEDIEST CASES headquarters Friday, as volunteers hustled to line up more gifts for families with no other hope of a holiday.

In the course of the day, seven volunteers raised $52,000, got people wheelchairs and insulin and found a new home for a red van.

The 100 Neediest campaign headquarters - in the United Way Building on Olive Street in downtown St. Louis - looks like a boiler room. Beige carpets, plastic and fabric cubicles. Seven volunteers - each with a phone, card files and message pads - filled half of the office's cubicles. Each volunteer, a man and six women, sported something green or red, and most wore a Santa Claus somewhere.

Since Thanksgiving, volunteers in the 100 Neediest drive have helped raise nearly $970,000 for nearly 11,000 families. That's enough for each family to get at least $50. The volunteers also have matched hundreds of donations - couches, clothes and appliances - with people. Social workers submitted families' holiday wishes - orthopedic shoes, baby dolls, help with heating bills - to the 100 Neediest campaign. This year, people and businesses adopted 1,025 families who will get almost everything they asked for.

On Friday, the volunteers worked with the intensity of salespeople on commission to fill the unmet wishes of the remaining 9,000 families.

"So much need," said Betty Sievert, the volunteer director of the program, a phone to her ear. "We can't stop trying."

In fact, the volunteers will be back Wednesday and work to fill holiday wishes through next month.

Among the remaining wishes:

A 20-year-old deaf man wants a closed captioned television and a specially equipped telephone. Still in school, the man lives on less than $500 a month. Earlier this year, he lost most of his possessions in a burglary.

A family of seven wants food, clothing and help with the bills. Since the mother lost her job, the family lives on the father's pay of $900 a month. The gas bill is more than $500. …

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