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Good Cheer Fund feeds local families

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A Center Grove area resident says Santa Claus doesn’t just wear a red suit.

On Saturday, Santa arrived at Jeannie Foster’s doorstep in the form of three Franklin residents carrying a box of milk, potatoes and the makings of Christmas dinner provided by the Good Cheer Fund.

Foster’s home is in foreclosure, and she has bills to pay for three children with special needs. Without the food, she said she wouldn’t have been able to afford a holiday meal for her family.

Johnson County Fraternal Order of Police volunteers delivered 225 boxes of food complete with canned goods, rolls and a Christmas ham to families’ homes in the northern part of the county Saturday. The Good Cheer Fund is an annual Johnson County tradition that dates back to 1921. Residents donate money, and schoolchildren bring in canned goods to fill baskets for 775 families in need. Volunteers deliver baskets in Franklin and rural parts of the county Christmas Eve.

Kenny Swint, operations manager for Johnson County Community Corrections, said the Greenwood volunteers delivered the same number of boxes as last year. But while the demand did not increase, the number of monetary and food donations the Good Cheer Fund received were down, he said.

Last year, organizers were able to give families 20 canned goods a piece from donations collected at local elementary schools, but they had to cut that amount back to about 15 this year, Swint said.

“Usually, we get 100 bushels heaping with food. This year, they were not heaping by any means,” Swint said.

Foster said she was still surprised by the amount of food her family received. She has never participated in the program before and didn’t expect to get a ham, bacon or even milk.

As she put away the food, her two daughters walked into the kitchen and jumped at the sight, eying a box of cookies.

“I think there are a lot of people who care enough to help,” Foster said.

In another Center Grove area neighborhood, Melissa McDorman’s two children helped her unpack the box of food she received from Good Cheer Fund.

This year is the second time McDorman and her family have received food through the program, and she said some of the items they got, such as two jars of peanut butter, would last them a few months.

Other items, such as the box of brownies, wouldn’t last very long, McDorman’s 9-year-old son, Shawn, said.

McDorman is out of work and said she has to spend a lot of time taking Shawn to medical appointments. Though their family recently moved from an apartment to a house, McDorman said they still wouldn’t have been able to afford Christmas dinner.

“The bills don’t stop just because it’s December,” McDorman said.

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