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Generosity fuels charity born from tragedy

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The founders of a charity formed to honor a Center Grove teen never imagined they would be giving gifts to dozens of children each year.

When Cheryl Bauer and Rachel Cline started Megan’s Fund in 2006, they had a goal to buy presents and necessities, such as shampoo and socks, for a few families at Christmas.

But now, their charity buys gifts for more than 40 children a year and donates items to countless more.

Bauer and Cline created Megan’s Fund in memory of Bauer’s daughter, Megan Williams, a Center Grove High School student who died in a car accident in December 2005 while she was buying presents for the Children’s Bureau in Indianapolis.

How to help

To donate money to Megan’s Fund, visit any Chase Bank location. To donate clothing, gift cards or other items, email megansfund@yahoo.com or visit megansfund.webs.com.

Items needed:

Gift cards $20 or less

Clothing: Boots, hats, pants, T-shirts, coats, sweatshirts, underwear

Toys: Puzzles, journals, action figures, coloring books, board games, cards

Toiletries — diapers, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap

Williams loved buying presents for children who didn’t have any, Bauer said, and she wanted the group to carry out her daughter’s mission.

In the first year, the group bought gifts for three families. This year, it will buy presents for 38 children and three families, Bauer said.

Their gifts will serve about a quarter of the 157 children who will receive gifts through the Children’s Bureau this year.

“We’re trying to make the best out of a bad situation. I don’t think (Megan) realized how many people she actually touched or could ever touch. I think she would be completely amazed and humbled to know how many people thought of her and wanted to continue the work she was doing,” Bauer said.

Williams was a junior at Center Grove High School and was involved in the Key Club. She was in charge of choosing families for the club to buy presents for every Christmas.

Bauer remembers how Williams would worry about picking the families because she could choose only one or two, but she wanted to help them all.

Megan’s Fund has been able to help more families, which is what Williams would have wanted, Bauer said.

Each year, the charity has collected more than enough money and items to provide gifts for the children it sponsors. The group also collects toiletries, clothing and gift cards throughout the year to give to families through the Children’s Bureau.

By Christmas, the group has a stockpile of items saved in a storage facility, said Cline, Williams’ best friend. The items the group doesn’t give to the families and children they sponsor are donated to the Children’s Bureau for other children, Cline said.

Since Bauer and Cline started Megan’s Fund, hundreds of people have donated. Usually, people donate money or items such as coats and clothing. But Bauer and Cline also ask their family and friends to buy gifts for one of the children the group sponsors.

This year, the Children’s Bureau changed its program to have people mostly sponsor individual children instead of buying gifts for an entire family, Bauer said.

Cline said the change has gotten more people in the community involved because they are more willing to take on expenses of buying for one person instead of buying for a family.

With more people involved, Cline and Bauer hope to expand the group, conduct additional fundraisers and donate items to the Children’s Bureau multiple times a year instead of only during Christmas.

“We want to make it a year-round donation thing so the bureau has that to count on,” Bauer said.

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