On Saturday, members of the Greenwood Fraternal Order of Police delivered Good Cheer baskets to residents in the northern part of the county.
This week, members of the Edinburgh Fire Department will do the same in the southern part of the county. And still more volunteers will fan out across the rest of the county to deliver the remaining baskets.
In total, organizers planned to distribute about 800 baskets to families in need this season. Each basket contains a ham, fresh eggs, milk and potatoes, plus canned goods to last another few days. For many families, receiving a Good Cheer basket means having a nutritionally balanced meal for the first time in months.
After receiving a Good Cheer basket last year, one recipient said, “This means everything for us. We’re just making it day-to-day now.”
The Good Cheer Fund has been an annual Johnson County tradition since 1921, and it’s an all-volunteer effort. It begins with schoolchildren donating canned and nonperishable food items. Then money is collected to purchase the perishable items. Finally, volunteers fill and deliver the baskets.
The entire effort is due to the efforts and generosity of the residents and organizations of Johnson County. It’s all volunteers. No one is paid. The reward comes in knowing that they have helped, just as they have for nearly a century.
But the effort is running short of monetary donations this year and needs support from the community. On top of that, the number of requests for assistance is increasing. In 2014, the community donated more than $29,000.
Organizers are confident that they’ll reach this year’s goal to put together the planned number of baskets. The fund always carries over a reserve surplus, in case of emergency. But without donations from the community, they’ll have to use most of that reserve to cover groceries.
While lower-than-expected contributions will not affect the number of families who receive food this year, it could impact how many families are helped in 2016 and beyond.
“We always have seed money that we’ve saved from the previous year,” said Jake Sappenfield, chairman of the Good Cheer Fund. “It creates a bit of a crisis going in to next year. I would be worried for next year starting out with if we don’t pick up donations.”
So even with the deliveries, the work is not done. Your continued support is needed to make sure all of this year’s supplies are paid for.
The Good Cheer Fund campaign represents the best of the community, neighbors helping neighbors. The only payment donors and volunteers hope for is the smiles of thanks from the hundreds of families who will be helped during the holiday season.
As one repeat volunteer said: “I say it every year, but that was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
So if you can help, your assistance will be greatly appreciated. And if you’ve already helped out in one way or another, we speak for the entire community when we say, “Thank you.”
Tax-deductible donations to the Good Cheer Fund can be sent to the Daily Journal, P.O. Box 699, Franklin, IN, 46131; or dropped off at the newspaper office, 30 S. Water St. in Franklin. Checks should be made payable to the Good Cheer Fund.
The Good Cheer Fund is a volunteer community effort that delivers baskets of food to families in need.
The fund needs a late-season boost in financial donations to ensure the continued success of the program.