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December 30, 2012-Family Services in Poughkeepsie has helped individuals and families throughout the Hudson Valley for more than 130 years through direct services, advocacy and collaboration.

"Multiple victims of crime and domestic violence were supported, empowered and strengthened through our victims assistance programs; parents in danger of losing their children to foster care have successfully developed the parenting skills needed to keep their family together and healthy through the Family Education Program and the Family Partnership Center has remained an anchor for services in the community," said Jessica Wallach, coordinator of Program Development and Outcomes Management.

But the non-profit can use a hand around the holidays.

As part of that mission, the nonprofit is also participating in Holiday Helping Hand -- the annual fundraising campaign sponsored by the Poughkeepsie Journal and the United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region -- and purchases gift cards and utility vouchers for 52 individuals and families in its Crime Victims Assistance and Dutchess Youth Career Works programs.

As of Thursday, $38,397.17 has been raised to help local nonprofits such as Family Services brighten the holidays of Dutchess residents next year.

Funds raised last year benefit this year's programs.

"These clients might otherwise have little or nothing for the holidays," Wallach said. "We serve an underserved population who are struggling with self-sufficiency. Through these gifts and vouchers, we're empowering them to help themselves, but also to brighten their holidays."

Family Services has participated in Holiday Helping Hand since 2007 and serves more than 7,000 families in Dutchess and Ulster counties through its youth recreation and employment programs, after-school programs, supervised visitation programs, child care at Dutchess County Family Court, victims assistance, family education and its accountability program for offenders of crime, as well as collaborating with community and funding agencies through federal, state and county government.

"The excitement of the holidays most often reminds us of children, but their families are also in need," said Diane Hart, director of Community Impact at United Way. "Thankfully, organizations such as Family Services help to fill this gap whether through a small gift or assistance paying for utilities such as heat."

Loren Hoffman: 845-437-4800, lhoffman@poughkeepsiejournal.com, Twitter: @LoreHoffyPJ.