For more than 23 years, the Adopt-A-Family Program has made it possible for struggling families with children to have a magical Christmas and experience the Light of Christ. The program has assisted families in one of the poorest areas of our city, the Los Angeles Skid Row and downtown area. On Dec. 15, Archbishop José Gomez and hundreds of volunteers will help “make magic happen” for some 400 families in need by delivering gifts that have been provided by generous donors to Adopt-A-Family. The distribution will take place following a brief early morning prayer service at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.The 400 “adopted’ families face unimaginable obstacles and challenges on a daily basis, noted Lydia Gamboa, Adopt-A-Family coordinator.“The lives of children living on Skid Row can be most bleak,” she said. “They live in hotels and apartments, often crowded in one room units with brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, and other family members. Surrounded by drug dealing, prostitution, violent crime and poverty, there are very few comforts and often little joy. Very few have refrigerators; fewer have stoves; and bathroom and kitchen facilities are often down the hall and shared with neighbors.”Despite such dire circumstances, many of these families are outside of the help of government and other charitable programs, Gamboa noted. It is for these struggling families that the Adopt-A-Family Program was created more than 20 years ago, operating first from St. Vibiana’s Cathedral, and for the last decade from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.Throughout September and October, the Adopt-A-Family volunteers met with the families to identify their individual needs. On Dec. 15, volunteers will return to the homes with food, together with toiletries, blankets, books, baby care items and clothing for the entire family. In addition, toys and games will provide the children with much needed diversion and recreation. “For these families,” said Msgr. Terrance Fleming, director of the Adopt-A-Family Program since 1990, “the anticipation of a joyous Christmas celebration is a light of hope in what can be a very dark and challenging existence.”For information on sponsorship opportunities or to contribute to the Adopt-A-Family program, call (213) 637-7501 or email [email protected]{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/1214/adopt/{/gallery}