Holiday Program FAQ

Frequently Requested Information

Sponsor-a-Family Information

  • What does it mean to Sponsor a Family/Individual?
    When you register to sponsor families and/or individuals in Britepaths' Holiday Program, you are making a commitment to helping a person or people in the Fairfax County area who are in need by supplying food at Thanksgiving and/or the December holidays and/or December holiday gifts for any children in the family who are under 18. This involves contacting the family/individual directly and arranging to deliver meals and gifts.
  • What do I do when I receive the information about my family/s?
    Please call the family IMMEDIATELY to confirm the information and make arrangements for delivery. Families seeking assistance are anxious about whether they will receive help. Please let them know as soon as you can.
  • When should I deliver the food and/or gifts?
    Please talk to the family and arrange a date and time for delivery that works best for both of you. For the December holidays, please make sure to deliver by Sunday, December 17th. Britepaths will close at 3pm on 12/22 and will re-open on Tuesday, 1/2/2017.
  • What if my family does not speak English?
    Britepaths has a list of volunteers who have offered to help our donors communicate with their families. If you receive information on a family that does not speak English or have an English-speaking contact listed, contact us at or at 703-273-8829 to request the translator list. When you receive the list, send an e-mail or call a volunteer on the list as soon as possible to give the volunteer adequate time to help you. We ask that you not share the translator’s contact information with the family you are sponsoring.
  • Do I have to buy everything on the wish list?
    No, you should purchase the items you think are appropriate. Wish list items are just suggestions. Many sponsors like to give each child a clothing item, book and a fun item (a toy or other item off the wish list).
  • How much do I spend for food and gifts?
    For a holiday meal, the average recommended amounts are:
    Singles: $25
    Small family (2-3 people): $50
    Medium family (4-6 people): $75
    Large family (7 or more people): $100
    For gifts for children, we recommend a minimum of $25 per child.
  • Do I buy gifts for the parents?
    We have made it clear to social workers and clients that gifts are intended for children younger than 18 years of age. You should not feel obligated to buy the parents gifts. However, some sponsors like to get a little something for the mom and/or dad, and Britepaths does not have a problem with this. It is completely up to the sponsor.
  • Do I wrap the gifts?
    We recommend that you ask the family what their preference is.
  • Can I buy gift cards?
    Many families appreciate gift cards, but please check with your family/s to make sure they have transportation to travel to the store in question. We also recommend that you send or deliver those gift cards ahead of time to give them sufficient time to shop.
  • What kind of gifts should I buy?
    It is a good idea to check the wish list first.  We recommend considering basic needs first, i.e. clothing, shoes, pajamas, underwear & socks, coats and winter wear. Many sponsors like to give each child a clothing item, book and a fun item (a toy or other item off the wish list). Note that teens love gift cards: Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Shopping Mall gift card.
  • Should I provide a cooked meal?
    That is up to you and your family(s), and there are many different options. While some of our sponsors do prepare and deliver a meal to their families, most provide baskets of food items and/or grocery gift cards so that families can prepare their own meals. For example, you might gather all the non-perishable ingredients for the meal and provide a grocery gift card for meat and fresh foods. Some sponsors like to order pre-cooked meals for the families from local grocery stores.
  • Do I provide a turkey?
    Please check the “dietary restrictions” on your information sheet and then speak with the family about what their preference is. Also note that some families may not have experience with cooking a turkey or may not have the facilities to cook a turkey. It is a good idea to make sure first that they are up for roasting a turkey, and if so, include cooking instructions.
  • Who is my contact if there is a problem?
    If you are having issues contacting the family, please contact us at or at 703-273-8829.

Donation Information

  • How can I donate funds to the Holiday Program? CLICK HERE to make a donation to the Holiday Program through our secure on-line donation page. Or mail a check to Britepaths, 4080 Chain Bridge Road, 2nd Floor, Fairfax VA 22030 and write "Holiday Program" on the memo line. See our Drop Off/Mail Donations page for more information. CLICK HERE for information on Corporate Sponsorship of the Holiday Program.
  • How will Britepaths use donated funds? Funds you donate to the Holiday Program will be used to purchase gift cards to send to families who are registered in our program but who are not sponsored by an external donor – so that they have the opportunity to purchase holiday meals and gifts for their children. Note that if donations arrive after we have distributed gift cards, they will be used throughout the year to help needy families in our community.
  • How do donations of gift cards help? We love to receive donations of gift cards in denominations of $10, $20 and $25. Once received and logged, these donations will be passed on directly to families on our Holiday Assistance list who we were not able to match with sponsors. If we receive gift card donations after we have finished distributing Holiday Assistance, they will still be used to help families in need in our community. Gift cards are considered to be "in kind" contributions. When you purchase gift cards to donate, save your receipt for your tax records.
  • What types of gift cards are best? Gift cards from major discount and grocery stores that are widely available in our area are the most helpful. We greatly appreciate gift cards from Target and Walmart to help families purchase gifts for their children, and Giant, Safeway and Shoppers to help them purchase their holiday meals.