A higher-than-usual number of needy families is putting a strain on The Grace Center’s resources, and Christmas is right around the corner.
The Grace Day Center provides resources like laundry and shower facilities, snacks and clothing for job interviews, while the Grace Resource Center serves as a referral program that connects struggling families with rent, utility and emergency shelter assistance among other services. Grace Center Director Lesley Dvorak said this month the organization is receiving more requests for help than usual from struggling families.
“We typically always see a need in December, but there’s so much more this year,” Dvorak said.
Dvorak said January usually marks a busy time for the center, when people struggle financially after the holidays. She said that if the current trend continues, the need will only grow.
 “We’re kind of concerned because it’s only the 6th,” Dvorak said. “We anticipate even more families coming in that need assistance. We’re thinking of what we can do to make sure we have enough to cover those families going into Christmas.”
Dvorak made a Facebook post on Wednesday discussing the increased need for donations, which prompted people to adopt 27 of the families. Another 15 people made donations. She said she projects the center could be assisting as many as 100 families by the time Christmas arrives.
 “A lot of times, they’ll want to do their own shopping for the family,” Dvorak said. “We love that. Others prefer to just donate.”
The Grace Center’s walk-in numbers jumped this fall, which Dvorak attributed to people either passing through Ardmore or coming to Ardmore from a shelter in a nearby city like Dallas or Oklahoma City. Others recently moved to the area, but missed the window for other Christmas assistance programs like Angel Trees. She said that accounts for some of the increase, but most are families who’ve had a setback, like an illness or emergency, that’s pushed them to the brink.
“That’s a huge thing we’ve seen since August,” Dvorak said. “But we’ve also seen more of what we’ve always seen, there’s just more of it. One illness, that’s how close many of us are, and many of us don’t even realize it.”
When a family first comes to the Grace Center for assistance, a case worker sits down with them and discusses what their needs are. Basic needs like utilities and food are addressed first. Then, they address Christmas.
“Usually, they’re more concerned with clothing than with toys,” Dvorak said. “Then, we get to toys, a tree, decorations.”
Donors can either make cash donations or “adopt” families. Anyone interested in doing so can call the center’s administration at (580) 223-2027.