The Rim Country Non-Profits Coming Together (NPCT) pulled off its annual Christmas program despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Imagine the joy of a child from a financially struggling local family finding gifts specially purchased and wrapped for them on Christmas Day. This joy is at the heart of NPCT’s Christmas Program, and in 2020 NPCT continued to help families in need, despite COVID-19.

NPCT is a collective of local organizations and community volunteers who have been providing Christmas gifts to local families in need since 2013. In 2020, NPCT organizations included Frybread for Families, Gila County Community Services, New Beginnings Pregnancy and Parenting Center, North Gila County CERT, Payson Lions Club, Payson Public Library, Payson Unified School District, Rim Country Arizonans for Children, Rim Country Fire Angels, Soroptimists of Zane Grey Country, Time Out, Inc., and two corporate partners, Mazatzal Hotel & Casino and Pioneer Title Company.

COVID-19 restrictions did create some challenges for NPCT’s 2020 program. In the past the main fundraiser has been the tamale sale, but the sale was canceled this year. Fortunately, donations from Frybread for Families, Rim Country Optimists, Rim Country Arizonans for Children, Soroptimists of Zane Grey Country, and the Rotary Club of Payson Foundation’s donation in Memory of Michael Hendron boosted existing funds.

Because of COVID-19, families were not able to apply for the program through registration events. Instead, participating nonprofits provided names. Perhaps the biggest disappointment related to COVID-19 was the cancellation of the Family Christmas Carnival, which has always been a program highlight.

Despite these challenges, the NPCT team worked hard to make Christmas special for 27 families, 74 children, and 20 senior citizens in the area without close family, and two adult children, a total of 96 individuals. This year the NPCT team was able to help with some special needs in addition to gifts of clothing and toys, including a stove for a family who had to cook meals on their woodstove after their stove broke, a dog ramp for an elderly service dog, bedding and other household goods, a Christmas tree, and Bashas’ cards and Walmart cards for families who needed help with food and paying bills. Special thanks to the friendly team at Bealls Department Store and the many, NPCT volunteers who shopped, wrapped, and helped with the gift distribution event to make the NPCT 2020 Program a success.

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