If you can, your help is really needed.
It is Christmas time and even when there wasn’t a pandemic, there are a lot of people who simply don’t have the spare change to afford that new toy or a bigger than normal meal on Christmas. The reality is that while many in Hamilton County have good paying jobs, there are many that struggle each day to pay the bills and simply keep food on the table. With Christmas coming, now is the time to help these families that are part of our community
For perspective, the poverty rate in Fishers, Indiana is extremely low. It is 3.3%. Having said that, 3.3% of nearly 100,000 people is 3,300 people that are listed as in poverty. The poverty rate for Hamilton County is among the lowest counties in the state at 4.2%. With a population of around 340,000, that equates to over 14,000 people. With the pandemic having wreaked havoc on a number of families, these numbers are likely low.
There is an organization in Fishers that already helps the food pantries and other charities across the county. They also do what I believe is the biggest holiday give-away of any of the organizations. They help hundreds and hundreds of families with food, toys, clothing and housewares so that the holidays are a bit easier for them. This is Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County (GSN) ran by Nancy Chance.
The holiday event they do is amazing. It is amazing because the community steps up to help make it amazing. This includes the fact that people have been donating all year. Those donations are rarely enough, so they take toys and other items up until the last minute.
The last minute is now !
While there are volunteers working all year to make this event happen, over the next few days hundreds of volunteers are needed to make it happen successfully. On Saturday, December 12th alone there are hundreds of volunteer positions that have to be filled to be able to give items away. Even before that there are things that need volunteers in order to be ready for Saturday.
There are two big things needed that are always needed, and with a pandemic, both are in even more need. These are:
- New toys for kids, or even ‘like new’ toys (especially older kids)
- Volunteers that can work to help either set up the event Thursday and Friday or help at the event on Saturday (or help for all three days)!
Before going into more details, let me show you how big the event has been in past years. The following video is a walk through of the Hamilton County fair grounds building where the event takes place that I did two years ago.
That might have seemed like a lot of stuff in the video, the toys will be decimated before the event is over. They new toys will pretty much be gone well before all the families get through the line. It’s worth noting that many of the toys donated are “like new” which for many families is still better than no present under the tree. The video was from Saturday morning. Many food boxes are sent out to other locations, so the room at the end did not shown the extend of what is really given to families.
If you have donations of new toys or even ‘like new’ toys that you are clearing out to make way for replacements you’ll get at Christmas, then you can drop them off at the fairgrounds on Thursday or Friday. You can also donate clothing and other items. As you can see in the video, many people donate some of the larger Playschool and Step 2 type toys that their kids no longer use as well as bikes.
Volunteering is really the focus of this post. Many of the volunteers that help are school groups for set up and older people. Clearly in a year with a pandemic, these two groups are not available at the same level as past years. As such, the need for new volunteers is huge. They could use any individuals or groups to come and help for a few hours or on the day of the event. There are numerous positions that need to be filled. You can find these positions in the iVolunteer site at the following link:
If you volunteer on Thursday or Friday (there are slots from 10am to 8:00pm), then you’ll see there are different areas of need. In past years, the Food Room/ General room is often sorting food items or creating food boxes. The Toy/Clothing room is often sorting and moving toys and clothing into positions. The general volunteer support can be anything from sweeping floors to taking out trash. Of course, all the positions are flexible to fit what is needed and what the volunteer can do. There is also a need for a couple of volunteers that can drive a truck (Need the right license). A quick look showed 188 open slots for Thursday, 60 on Friday, and most critically 340 on Saturday – the day of the event.
On Saturday, there are additional volunteer positions that include “client assistance” in clothing/toys. These positions work directly with the families that come to the event to help guide them in selecting items. The food assistance positions are a bit different in that the focus is more on assisting clients with the food boxes and helping them get them to where they are needed. There are also volunteer positions for greeting and directing the clients, crowd control, food delivery, and general volunteer help.
This event needs volunteers. This event serves our community – Hamilton County, and it needs hundreds of volunteers like you from our county to make it happen. It truly is a community helping community event. Individuals and groups can volunteer, so what are you waiting for?
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Note: I am not associated with Good Samaritan Network in any way other than as a volunteer. I am associated with Danville (Illinois) Rescue Mission and DaySpring Women & Children’s shelter both located in Danville, Illinois.