NORTH LIMA - A local charity is showcasing its new home Saturday, offering a network for social and animal welfare shelters in the Mahoning Valley.
Adopt an Angel, founded by North Lima resident Jaime Hughes, with its partner organization, DIVA Donations, is hosting an open house at 4 p.m. Saturday at its new location in the old South Range Elementary school, 11836 South Ave.
Although not yet a 501c3 non-profit organization, Adopt an Angel conducts fund-raising and community service projects for shelters, provides a network to unite the shelters and families in need and educates the community on the many needs of both humans and animals, Hughes said.
Jaime Hughes, founder and president of Adopt an Angel in North Lima, tends to a cat she rescued from a dumpster outside the new offices of the charity. Adopt and Angel with its partner organization, DIVA Donations, is hosting an open house at 4 p.m. Saturday at its new location in the old South Range Elementary school, 11836 South Ave. (Salem News photo by Kevin Howell)
A 2007 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School, Hughes started the organization in 2008 as way to help provide a Christmas for a family she met while working at The Rescue Mission in Youngstown. The mother was working and the children were going to school but they just weren't making ends meet. One day she overheard the mother tell her children they weren't going to be able to have Christmas that year.
"I felt that I had to do something to help make their Christmas happen," Hughes said. "And I knew there were more families out there that needed the same help."
The idea originated during her senior year at Cardinal Mooney. She was working with 5 and 6 year olds at the Mill Creek Learning Center where one little boy said he didn't want to go home because his family had no food. When she met the
family at The Rescue Mission, she jumped at the chance to help.
"The whole idea is that I can give back to somebody else," she said. "It sounds cheesy, but it's true. It's something that was instilled in me [at Cardinal Mooney], that community service is the most important thing you can do with your time."
A growing concern
This year, those being helped by Adopt an Angel has grown to nine shelters and 27 families.
"Optimistically I wish that families didn't need this option at all," she said, "but I'm happy that we've continued to grow and are helping more and more people."
And Hughes is encouraging everyone in the community to help out.
"The idea that people need to stop being the victim and pick themselves up...that's not always the case," she said. "I want people to understand that there's others whose struggles aren't their fault."
That is why she wants to educate the community as well as help those in need.
"I want to let people know that poverty affects a lot of people," she said. "And it's a trickle down effect for animals, too, because they can't afford to take care of them."
Since it is not a 501c3 organization, Adopt an Angel does not accept monetary donations. Instead it conducts collection drives to assist shelters and families in Mahoning, Columbiana and Trumbull counties as well as helps connect those in need with shelters and vice versa. A strict application process is used to determine who will receive help, Hughes said.
"I think people feel so much more gratitude and excitement when they give food that they know will feed a dog or a toy that a child will play with," she said. "It's so much more real that just a check."
For information on how Adopt an Angel assists shelters and families or for information on how to donate, visit adoptanangel.info or call 330-531-1705.
The open house will serve as a fund raiser and networking event with raffles and refreshments. Raffle baskets from local businesses and organizations will be available and anyone bringing a a canned good or animal related item (such as leash or toy) will get two free tickets entered in any baskets. All proceeds generated during the event will go directly to Adopt an Angel and DIVA Donations.
Founded by local resident Kristin Bodendorfer, DIVA Donations collects and offers homecoming dresses and accessories that girls can rent for a small fee for homecoming dances. It, too, is working toward a 501c3 status. For more information visit DivaDonations.com.