Whenever a Center Grove area woman thinks the annual tradition she helped start might not get enough donations, more people contribute, and the giving campaign turns out to be better than the previous year.

Rachel Cline helps lead Megan’s Fund, a charity that buys and delivers toys and other items to children of needy families. The charity is in honor of Megan Williams, a Center Grove High School student who died in an accident a week before Christmas in 2005 as she was shopping for toys for kids.

Cline was a close friend of Williams and operates the charity along with Cheryl Waterman, Williams’ mother.

This is the ninth Christmas that the charity has collected toys for children, and it has grown to help about 100 kids, from 30 the first year.

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“Every year I feel like this year it won’t be as many, and it ends up being more. Just this month I’m starting to get information on families for this year, and I have a feeling it will get busy just like before,” Cline said.

The pair often find out by

word of mouth about children

who might not receive

Christmas presents..

They also work with agencies to identify families who need help providing Christmas gifts for their children, such as the Indianapolis Children’s Bureau, a nonprofit organization that works on behalf of abused and neglected children in Indiana.

“A lot of how we find out is just hearsay from Cheryl’s family or mine,” Cline said.

Through their group, people sponsor individual children. Cline or Waterman match donors with a child, giving them information such as what presents kids are asking for and clothing sizes.

The sponsors then shop for the gifts and donate them. With cash donations, Cline, Waterman or other volunteers do the shopping.

Megan’s Fund volunteers deliver the presents to the families or to other organizations who deliver the gifts in other parts of the state. As the charity drive has expanded, toys are being delivered across the state, but about half of the families being helped are still in Johnson County, Cline said.

Cline and Waterman, who both have families and full-time jobs, said they keep Megan’s Fund going because it is worth it.

“I keep thinking because of the economy people won’t be able to give as much, but each year it has been more,” Waterman said.

For Waterman, the yearly drive is therapeutic as she carries on what her daughter enjoyed doing.

After the accident, Waterman and Megan’s father retrieved the presents from the car and made sure they were delivered to ensure Megan’s wishes were carried out. After that, Megan’s Fund was created. With multiple fundraisers, toy collections and shopping trips, Waterman is humbled by the effort that goes on in her daughter’s name.

“This is a very difficult time of year for me, and Rachel is a real driving force to get the ball rolling on all of this. She and her family have been a tremendous support. It makes me feel good to know she’s remembered in such a way and a reminder that what she did made a difference,” she said.

“It remains a difficult time and forces me to relive those moments every year. But it does help to know when I wake up Christmas morning, whether or not I have anything under the tree, I know those kids do and otherwise they might not have had anything. It’s a wonderful feeling that some little child is going to get a surprise and that someone out there cares enough to help.”

How you can help

Cash: Donations can be made to Megan’s Fund at any Chase bank location. You also can mail a check to 1041 Barefoot Trail, Greenwood, IN 46142.

Items: Toys, books or toiletries can be dropped off at Urban Euphoria salon, 3113 W. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood.

For information on how to sponsor a family, call 317-753-0630 or email megansfund@yahoo.com.

For other information on Megan Williams and Megan’s Fund, go to megansfund.webs.com.