Christmas Bureau Adopters

Christmas Bureau Adopter Information

THANK YOU! As of 11 am this morning, everyone who successfully applied has been matched! The generosity of this community is simply overwhelming. Thanks to everyone who stepped in to care for a neighbor this holiday season. We are all better when we Live United!

If you had hoped to adopt and were not matched, or if you would simply like to ensure the future of Christmas Bureau, you can still make a donation at or by dropping a donation at our office, 1527 SW Fairlawn Rd., between 9 am and 4 pm.

Just a reminder, if you have questions about your match, or if an emergency arises and you are unable to complete your Christmas Bureau gifting, please call us immediately at 785.273.4804 so we can make alternate arrangements for the family you adopted.

Your compassion and assistance are greatly appreciated. Asking for help can be a difficult and potentially embarrassing experience, and we appreciate your willingness to help a neighbor in need without judgment. Here are some general guidelines and expectations that should answer most of your questions about participating in Christmas Bureau.

As a Christmas Bureau adopter, you agree to

  • Contact your adoptee as soon as possible (within 48 hours of being matched)
  • Adhere to Christmas Bureau limits and gift restrictions
  • Be respectful of your adoptee’s situation and preserve their dignity
  • Work with your adoptee to schedule a delivery time for food and gifts
  • Purchase and deliver gifts for each family member on the application
  • Purchase and deliver food/gift card for a holiday meal
  • Alert United Way promptly in case of problems communicating with your adoptee or if you are unable to complete your adoption

Contact your family/adoptee as soon as you receive the contact information.

Many families truly are relying on Christmas Bureau and are eager to know that you have agreed to help. Please reach out within 48 hours. If you are unable to make contact, or if you find yourself unable to complete the adoption, please reach out to United Way immediately by calling 785.273.4804 or emailing

Schedule a delivery date and time with your adoptee.
Work with your adoptee to find a date and time that makes sense for both of you. Doing this early in the process will help you both avoid confusion as the holiday approaches.

Ask about your adoptee’s food preferences.
Part of Christmas Bureau is providing food to be enjoyed as a holiday meal, but not everyone has the same taste, dietary restrictions or food storage and preparation ability. Questions you can ask:

  • Are there any foods I should not buy?
  • Would you prefer heat-and-eat items or ingredients you can cook for yourself?
  • What foods make up your favorite holiday meal?

You are welcome to prepare this food beforehand or deliver the supplies for the family to prepare themselves. If your adoptee has the ability and desire to shop for their own food, you can provide a grocery store gift card if they prefer. It really depends on what fits your wants/schedule and the wants/abilities of your adopted family (e.g. if a person is differently abled, they may not be able to cook their meal, or if a person does not have a working oven, they won’t be able to bake anything). Our best advice is to talk with your adopted family and decide what works best between the two of you.

Clarify any questions about wish list items.
If sizes or details are unclear, ask for more information.

Include gift receipts for clothing items.
Buying on size alone doesn’t guarantee fit. A gift receipt for a coat or other clothing allows your adoptee to exchange a needed item if it is too small or too large.

Be patient but persistent when communicating.
Your adoptee may rely on a pre-paid mobile phone for communication, and sometimes they may run out of minutes at an inconvenient time and be unable to make or receive calls. They may still be able to receive texts. If you are consistently unable to reach your adoptee or their alternate contact, please contact United Way at 785.273.4804 or email Please include your name, your adoptee’s name and their contact information.

If you encounter a language barrier, please contact United Way and we will help find a translator/interpreter.

Please respect the gift limits and item restrictions.

It may feel odd to restrict your generosity to the $45 per person limit, but these guidelines are to keep giving equal across the board for all those being adopted. If you have additional resources, we highly recommend adopting another family to ensure everyone in our community is able to have something for Christmas.

Our intake volunteers give each applicant information on what they can and can’t ask for when communicating with you. Christmas Bureau adopters should not be asked nor agree to:

  • pay utility bills
  • buy entertainment electronics (unless they meet the $40 limit)
  • pay for vehicle repairs
  • other requests for more than the gift limit

If your adoptee makes repeated requests for such items, please contact United Way immediately for assistance and do not feel obligated to have additional conversations with your adoptee until we can resolve the situation. Simply say that you are unable to accommodate that request and refer them back to United Way.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns at 785.273.4804 or email Staff or a volunteer will respond as soon as possible. If you do not receive a response within 48 hours, please reach out again in case your message was misplaced.

If you are not able to adopt this year and would like to donate instead, you can mail a check payable to United Way of Greater Topeka to 1527 SW Fairlawn Rd, Topeka, KS 66604 with Christmas Bureau in the memo line, or you can donate securely online right now. While we always welcome Christmas Bureau donations, this year we also are asking you to consider giving the gift of reading all year by making a donation to support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Christmas Bureau is a decades-long tradition in our community and folds into our support of basic needs. Learn more about other aspects of United Way of Greater Topeka’s mission to create and cultivate an unbreakable network of community support by browsing the videos in our Virtual Toolkit.


Want to volunteer in other ways as well? Opportunities will be posted on as they are created.

Don’t have a account? Here’s a quick video (no sound) that shows you the easy steps.

2021 Christmas Bureau by the numbers:

  • 1,074 households served (including 3,587 children)
  • More than 60 intake and data entry volunteers who donated more than 400 hours of time and talent worth approximately $12,600.
  • 240 adopters, including partners at Topeka Rescue Mission and Doorstep, faith and corporate groups, and individual adopters. If adopters spend an average of 3 hours shopping, wrapping and delivering gifts, the time donated to this volunteer effort is worth more than $20,000.
  • Adopters provided gifts and holiday food worth more than $150,000.

Christmas Bureau donors also gave $4,536.22. Money raised helps cover unexpected needs if adopters find themselves unable to complete an adoption once a match is made.

Partners in the 2021 Christmas Bureau effort included:

  • Community Resource Council
  • Salvation Army
  • Topeka Housing Authority
  • Topeka Rescue Mission
  • Doorstep, Inc.
  • Let’s Help