For seven years, Angels of Giving has provided holiday gifts to needy Ripley County residents. The initiative has been co-chaired all that time by county council member Bill Warren, Osgood, and Ripley County Fairgrounds Park manager Shanna Joseph, Holton. “He and I work side by side,” she reports. “We work very well together.”
Warren notes, “It’s a wonderful feeling to help a kid at Christmastime.” He suggests that at the Thanksgiving dinner table, families should “think of the less fortunate kids in Ripley County” and make promises to give. “Any amount would be appreciated. No amount is too small.”
When Joseph discussed the program at an Oct. 15 Kiwanis Club of Batesville meeting, one of the members said, “‘We know there’s not a problem in Batesville with poverty.’ The (Batesville Intermediate School) principal said, ‘Oh, yes, we do have a problem.’”
The organizer remembers when she delivered gifts to a Holton family. They lived in “just a little shack, a roof over their heads. That family was so thankful. Both parents were working, but they’re struggling on these holidays. We help senior citizens on fixed incomes. They were buying pet food and skipping their prescriptions.” She likes to give the elderly gas cards to get to physicians’ appointments and gift cards to be used at pharmacies.
“So many people don’t realize the need out there.” Joseph reflects that if she were a child, “I can’t imagine waking up on Christmas morning and not getting a gift. I get so many kids who just want a blanket ... Everyday needs that we take for granted (like soaps and shampoos) are things these families need.”
Last year $27,000 was contributed. Between that money being used to buy gifts for recipients, and others living in poverty being “adopted” by individuals, businesses and groups, who buy gifts on wish lists, 389 families were helped, including at least 70 from Batesville.
To get names of recipients, she checks with various churches and schools and Dearborn County’s Clearinghouse, Aurora, which aids Ripley County residents. “I try to make sure no one is double dipping and gets more than they should so we can help more.” Some ask for big items, such as a washer and dryer. Joseph interviews the family “to make sure it’s a need, not a want.”
Warren and Joseph are aided by a small committee. Dale Ann Frances, Holton, is Joseph’s right-hand volunteer. “She is Santa’s elf. You name it, she does it .... She has just been a godsend.” Another major helper is Warren’s wife, Brenda. Shopping for wish list items comes after monetary donations and the number of persons in need are tallied up to determine how much can be spent on each. After the gifts are purchased by committee members, they are set out in Building 10 at Ripley County Fairgrounds Park, Osgood, where applicants will pick up their surprises in mid-December.
Donors come from all parts of the county. According to Joseph, “I just had a phone call yesterday, somebody I’ve helped in the past. She’s doing very well.” Past recipients “always say, ‘I want to give back when I’m able.’” The Napoleon woman donated three shelves of toiletries she had collected.
The Ripley County Community Foundation contributed $2,500 last year and the co-chairs have applied for another grant this year. “Hill-Rom’s on board again. They’re adopting families.” Other businesses – so far Batesville Casket Co., Forethought, Batesville Tool & Die, Crum Trucking, Ohio Rod and Best Metal Finishing – “really make an impact on us.”
Organizations ranging from the Osgood and Versailles Lions to the Osgood Kiwanians and Tri Kappa in the Osgood area have been pitching in. Members of school clubs, such as Sunshine and FFA, “get everything in order for pickup” at the fairgrounds building. She would like more businesses and clubs to be involved. “It could be a monetary donation or adopting a family or a child.”
How to get help
A family in need may complete an application between now and Nov. 15 at the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service office at the Osgood fairgrounds. Hours are 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays. Applications also may be obtained by calling Joseph at 812-756-0958.
How to contribute
There are three ways to participate in Angels of Giving by Dec. 10. Individuals or families may be adopted. Joseph suggests, “You can make contact with them to see, really, what are their needs?” Angels may deliver their gifts to the families’ homes or the fairgrounds for pickup. Tax-deductible checks (receipts can be requested) must be made payable to Angels of Giving and mailed to Shanna Joseph, 2910 N. Old Michigan Road, Holton, IN 47023. Unwrapped new toys may be dropped off at the Osgood fairgrounds. Co-chairs also can pick up contributions. Info: Shanna Joseph, 812-756-0958; Bill Warren, 812-689-4427 or 812-756-2560.
During Angels of Giving, Joseph always is impressed by “the kindness of our community. We don’t do this by ourselves. We do this as a community ... Ripley County is one of the best. I’ve met so many wonderful people doing this.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
How Angels of Giving began • Warren and members of his church at the time, Osgood Nazarene, started Toys for Tots 13 years ago to help town citizens. Now it has a new name, is nondenominational and covers the entire county.