HANCOCK COUNTY — As Thanksgiving decorations go down, holiday lights are going up across the county, heralding in the flurry of festivities ahead.
But as some families scramble to get decorations and meal plans laid out, many others struggle to make ends meet during the holiday season.
Officials from several local charities want to remind residents that the season of plenty is also a season of giving. To that end, several local programs are gearing up efforts to provide gifts of clothing and toys to fill some of the gaps for area families in need of assistance.
The mission: Mental Health Partners of Hancock County will provide gifts of clothing or essential household items to isolated senior citizens and residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Each person served by the program will receive a shoebox containing essential household items, including personal care necessities, such as toothpaste and shampoo.
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What’s needed: Money, volunteers and personal care items, such as toothbrushes and hairbrushes.
Where the donations go: Officials from Mental Health Partners deliver gifts to all recipients, many of whom live in group homes or assisted-living facilities, organizers said.
How to get involved: Donations can be dropped off to the Mental Health Partners office, 312 E. Main St., Greenfield, during office hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The organization is also in need of volunteers to assist with gift wrapping. Call the office at 462-2877 for more information. The deadline for donations is Saturday.
The mission: Santa’s Helpers, a national program, is operated locally by Greenfield Sertoma, a community-service organization. Members of the organization round up donations to purchase children’s clothing for families in need of assistance.
What’s needed: Money.
Where the donations go: Families selected for the gift drive are referred to it through the United Christmas Service, a program operated by United Way that connects needy families with philanthropic organizations during the holidays. Members of Greenfield Sertoma cover the overhead costs of the program, which include postage, mailings and materials, so 100 percent of donations go to families in need. Organizers said they hope to provide clothing for 200 kids this year.
How to get involved: Individuals can mail donations to P.O. Box 43 at the Greenfield Post Office, 207 N. State St. The organization needs to receive donations by Dec. 14.
Toys for Tots
The mission: Toys for Tots raises funds to provide toys to children whose families can’t afford to spend money on gifts. The organization distributes the items to families in the days leading up to Christmas.
What’s needed: Brand-new toys, money.
Where the donations go: Underprivileged children are referred to the program through the United Christmas Service. Families who qualify receive age-appropriate gifts to give to their children. Organizers say they hope to serve more than 500 kids this season.
How to get involved: Dozens of local businesses, schools and churches have boxes that donations can be dropped off in. Contact Christy Harold at 317-462-4491, ext. 41206, for information about where to send cash or check donations. The deadline for donations is Dec. 8.
Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign
The mission: The Red Kettle Campaign is the Salvation Army’s only annual fundraiser. Volunteer bell-ringers take up posts outside storefronts in Greenfield and New Palestine, spreading holiday cheer and seeking donations from passers-by.
What’s needed: Money, volunteers.
Where the donations go: All money collected in Hancock County stays in Hancock County, organizers said. About 70 percent of the donations are used to assist individuals and families in financial emergencies; 20 percent is used to fund local nursing home programs, children’s summer camps and school supplies distributions; and the remaining 10 percent covers operational costs.
How get involved: Bell-ringers will be stationed in front of Kroger and Walmart in Greenfield and at Marsh locations in Greenfield and New Palestine now until Christmas Eve. To become a bell-ringer, visit registertoring.com. Volunteers commit to two-hour shifts, with weekend and weekday opportunities available.
Shop with a Deputy
The mission: The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department will take dozens of the county’s underprivileged kids shopping on Dec. 5.
What’s needed: Money.
Where the donations go: The department tries to aid at least 30 kids each year, and each child receives about $300 to spend at Walmart on Christmas presents.
How to get involved: Donations can be mailed to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, 123 E. Main St., Greenfield. Members of the Rotary Club of Greenfield will continue fundraising by bell-ringing on Dec. 5 at the Greenfield CVS, Cynthia’s Hallmark, Kroger, Walgreens, Marsh and Speedway Gas Station locations at 815 W. Main St. and 1253 N. State St. in Greenfield.
The mission: The Greenfield and Fortville police departments each hosts a shopping event for local kids in need, similar to the sheriff’s department’s initiative. Greenfield’s event will be on Dec. 6; Fortville’s will be Dec. 12.
What’s needed: Money.
Where the donations go: Each department takes about 30 kids to breakfast at a local McDonald’s before heading to the Greenfield Walmart to shop for toys, books, clothes, movies and whatever else the child might need.
How to get involved: Checks can be mailed to the Greenfield Police Department at 116 S. State St., Greenfield, and the Fortville Police Department at 714 E. Broadway St., Fortville.