When Lacey Ostrander lived in Michigan she went through a time when she was struggling and ended up on the street. She turned to a group there called Sensational Christmas for help. The next year when she did not need help, she volunteered with the group to pay back and help someone else.
Ostrander is now bringing the concept to Walton County, where she moved last year.
When Ostrander and her husband moved to DeFuniak Springs, she looked around and saw a lot of need, but no organization like the one in Michigan. So with help from her friend, Brenda, Ostrander started an organization to help single mothers or those with low income supply Christmas gifts for their children.
The women made a Facebook page, which they named Adopt a Family Walton County, and shared it with all of their friends.
On the site, Ostrander explained that if anyone is in need of gifts for their children for Christmas, send her a private message and she will post the things that are needed on the site. She asks the parents provide sizes and what the child's interests are.
For families that would like to adopt a family for the holidays, they can like the post, comment, or message Ostrander the number of the family they would like to adopt.
"I just put the page up last week and 11 families were adopted today," she said last week. "The page has been getting a lot of hits."
Families that would like to remain anonymous may do so, or if comfortable, meetings can be arranged between adopters and adoptees. Ostrander will deliver gifts to families that want to remain anonymous.
"There are so many children out there that won't have a Christmas this year because of financial issues," Ostrander said. "I believe this would be great for the community. It really helped in my home town and I would love to be a part of helping others. Let's see how many families we help this year."
Ostrander said she will personally donate a gift basket to one person who adopts a family.
There are still a couple of families on the list that have not been adopted, and she just helped one woman get her lights back on.
"When I talk to these women, it turns out they need more help than just with Christmas gifts. I just want to help," she said.
Ostrander shares the Facebook page daily, and each day she goes on the site to let adoptees and adopters know what day they can pick up.
Ostrander and sponsors set dates for collecting and distributing.
Dec. 16 and 17 will be delivery days. No gifts are wrapped for safety reasons.
"This is my first time doing this," said Ostrander, who also works full time at the Econolodge Motel. "Next year I'll probably be more efficient."