Here is a look at the history of the Good Cheer Fund:

1915: Austin Flinn, Franklin Township trustee, saw the need for an organized charities board and organized a meeting with local charity organizations, calling it the United Charities Board. The charities board was an agent of the Good Cheer Fund in earlier years.

1921: The Good Cheer Fund started. Flinn, then a local funeral home owner, and the Franklin Evening Star, were credited with founding the fund. They collected enough money to feed 110 families.

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1920s: The Franklin Evening Star reported that firefighters in the area repaired older, broken toys that would be distributed along with the food baskets. That effort continued until at least the 1970s.

Nov. 26, 1932: The Franklin Evening Star reported that the number of people asking for help from the fund was increasing. The charities board, which administered the fund, had 250 names on the list already. The previous year, 200 baskets were given out.

Nov. 22, 1938: The Franklin Evening Star reported that the fund was starting with just a few dollars, as bills had to be paid. This was a difference from previous years. Members of the charities board also reported that there was a large need because of sickness in the city.

Dec. 11, 1948: The Franklin Evening Star reported that the Artcraft Theatre was hosting its annual charity show for the Good Cheer Fund. Schools in Franklin took the task of collecting canned goods from students. Students were then rewarded with a free show at the downtown cinema.

Nov. 26, 1954: Members of the United Charities Board reported that they expected an uptick in people that would need help from the fund, since Camp Atterbury recently had closed.

Late 1950s: The Good Cheer Fund moved from helping residents in Franklin only and became a county-wide effort.

1957: Donations hit an all-time high of $968.39.

1958-1959: Eddy Teets is named the chairman of the fund. Reports indicated that the fund was on the cusp of being disbanded when Teets took the helm.

Dec. 15, 1969: The Good Cheer Fund was more than $1,000 short of its $1,500 goal with just a few days left to raise money before baskets were delivered.

Dec. 22, 1969: The Franklin American Legion donated candy stockings for the fund and Whiteland Orchard donated bushels of apples to be put into the baskets.

1970s: What is provided in a Good Cheer Fund basket has been largely unchanged. However, a stalk of celery used to be included in each basket until one year in the 1970s, when the stalks froze, prompting organizers to stop putting the vegetable in the baskets.

Dec. 15, 1982: Chairman Teets reported that the number of people asking where to give foods, toys and money was up as neighbors recognized that the recent recession might make the holidays tough on some of their neighbors.

December 1982: The community raised a record setting $11,393.36 for the Good Cheer Fund. The funds helped organizers deliver 350 baskets to families in the county.

Dec. 26, 1986: The Franklin Evening Star reported that three local grocers, Brown’s Regal Market No. 3 in Edinburgh and Knott’s Markets in Franklin and Greenwood, arranged special deals with Good Cheer Fund organizers to bring the cost of buying food for the baskets down.

1987: The Franklin Jaycees donated toys that would be put in baskets that would go to children. About 300 children in 90 homes were given toys.

1992: Bob Heuchan is named co-chairman of the fund with Teets. He later is named chairman.

Jan. 4, 1994: The Good Cheer Fund hit another record amount, raising $22,250 for the fund, which was enough to send 675 baskets to local families. The amount was $8,000 more than what was raised the previous year.

Nov. 28, 1996: The Good Cheer Fund formally applied to the Internal Revenue Service to be recognized as a 401 C3 nonprofit organization. A three-member board of directors was formed.

1997: Jim Rhoades starts a hog roast to raise money for the fund by serving barbecue sandwiches in the parking lot of his hardware store in downtown Franklin. The first year, the roast raised $3,500. A hog roast in his name is continued as a fundraiser for the Good Cheer Fund today.

Dec. 9, 2000: Canary Creek Cinemas in Franklin offered free admission to the “Rugrats” movie in exchange for a donation of canned goods that would go to the Good Cheer Fund.

2006: A record number of canned food is collected for the fund, with 52,877 canned foods collected. Schools in Johnson County are mostly credited with the collection of the canned goods.

2008-early 2009: Jake Sappenfield is named a co-chairman of the fund. He later is named chairman.

Nov. 28, 2009: Good Cheer Fund organizers agreed to add 25 baskets to the annual giveaway. Johnson County unemployment was up five percent because of the recession that started in late 2008.

Dec. 17 and 19, 2012: The Franklin College men’s basketball team gave free admission to fans with the donations of canned food items.

Dec. 28, 2012: Good Cheer Fund organizers were worried about the lack of donations that would force them to spend every cent in the fund to get the 775 promised baskets out to families. Last minute donations of about $10,000 allowed the fund to have a cushion for future years.

Dec. 13, 2013: The Daily Journal, a partner in raising donations, reported that organizers of the Good Cheer Fund feared that a shorter than usual holiday season would affect the donations. Thanksgiving fell on Nov. 28, giving organizers about three weeks to collect the needed money. Also, applications for help were up about 30 percent.

2016: More than $26,000 was donated to the Good Cheer Fund.

2017: Efforts are underway to raise money and 40,000 canned goods to feed 800 families across Johnson County this Christmas.

Source: Daily Journal and Franklin Evening Star archives

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.