A Week with Good Samaritan Network’s Christmas Program – Sunday

Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County (GSN) was organized in 1995 although it dates back to 1980. While GSN has an office in Fishers near SR 37 and 131st Street, it is really a collaborative group of non-profits located throughout Hamilton County Indiana. GSN works to coordinate as an umbrella organization with roughly 268 agencies, 280 churches, 43 food pantries, 69 schools, and 5 hospitals in the county.

By helping coordinate, there is a reduction in duplicating services and efforts. The various services provided are to help with life services for basic needs. These include help with food or shelter insecurities, financial assistance, education, transportation, and more.

One area where GSN shines is in their holiday assistance where over 46,000 people are helped annually with meals, clothing and gifts. this includes both at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The MISSION of the Good Samaritan Network is to demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ by serving the physical, financial and emotional needs of underserved individuals and families in Hamilton County who find themselves among the at-risk people we serve.

Holiday Distribution Program

December 9th is when GSN’s Holiday Assistance Christmas distribution date. On this day, GSN works to serve thousands in the community with food, gifts, and household items at the Noblesville County Fairgrounds. The people served are those that applied by December 3rd.

The event takes a week to set up using hundreds of volunteers. The GSN site allows for signups of just over 2,000 slots over the course of the week. Last week I mentioned that over 1,300 volunteer slots were still open.

With this article, I’ll talk about various things that happen over the course of the week. Note, however, that while time will be spent all week setting this event up for next Saturday, Nancy Chance, Founder and Executive Director, and her small team work all year coordinating and soliciting for donations to make the event work.

Day One: Sunday

On the first day of the event the focus is on getting items from the various storage locations to the main building at the fairgrounds. This involves a lot of pallets containing a lot of boxes being brought into the main fairground building. Using forklifts and pallet jacks, these are placed close to the areas where they will be used or unpacked. The event has four main areas, food, toys, household items, and ‘big things’. The image below shows the “food” area as it was at the end of Sunday.

Also on this first day, many of the boxes are taken off the pallets and sorted at the box level into areas and the large item organization begins within one of the building hallways. The primary goal of the day, however, is to get the items into the building so that the volunteers can start really set up on day 2, Monday. The following image is a long view of the building where the event takes place. This is what it looked like at the end of the day on Sunday.

You can see the open room with toys in the middle, and household items at the far end. Large toys items are in a hallway you can’t see in this picture. The room looks relatively organized at this point. On Monday, this will turn to what looks like chaos.

Donations

It is worth mentioning that even though set up has started, people can — and still do — donate throughout the week. Items can be dropped off at the fairgrounds. If you look at the pictures, I include with this and the following write-ups, you might believe that there is so much already in the building that more is not needed.

The reality is that an extremely large number of people are served, so more items will be used and put to good use. While there are times when some things remain at the end, it is generally minimal, and those items that are usable are packed and kept for the next event. I’ve volunteered at the event for many years now, and there is always a need for more new toys – especially for teens.

You can find out more on GSN, the events they do, volunteering, and more at gsnlive.org.


Monday at GSN…

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