Residents’ gifts make major impact

Nearly every day starting in November, someone comes into a Franklin food pantry to drop off a donation.

Churches, schools, companies and individuals drop off money, canned vegetables, boxes of macaroni and cheese or other items to the Interchurch Food Pantry in Franklin.

The holidays are a time for giving, and county residents take that seriously. November and December are record months for giving to local charities.

During the holidays, schools and churches have canned food and toy drives and companies give back to their community. For local food pantries, that means at least double their typical donations. And each year, local residents give thousands of dollars to the Good Cheer Fund, a countywide effort to feed needy families at Christmas. As of this week, donations were slightly down compared to this week last year, but organizers are confident they will meet the goal of $38,000 by Christmas.

For local charities, the holidays are a key time to fill their shelves. Donations received in the weeks leading up to Christmas can be enough to last into the next year.

At the Interchurch Food Pantry, donations more than double in November and December. Duke Energy dropped off a $2,500 check last week that organizers will use to buy items, such as breakfast cereal and canned fruit, said Carol Phipps, pantry manager.

“That really makes a difference, it helps us stretch our food,” Phipps said. “We see the spike in November and December.”

That’s important since the pantry continues seeing the same volume of people — between 60 and 70 families daily — year round, Phipps said. Volume in December is usually slightly lower. The pantry serves about the same number of families each day, but holiday closings mean the pantry is open fewer days, Phipps said.

Donations to the pantry decrease in January, Phipps said. The surplus they get during the holidays helps carry them through the rest of the winter, she said.

“Come January, it all drops off,” Phipps said.

Express Employment and a church hosted toy drives so that The Refuge food pantry in Greenwood could give more than 100 children toys along with food.

Businesses, churches and individuals conducting food drives always help, officials said.

The Refuge meets the holiday demand in its pantry with extra donations received during the holidays, said Kerry Jones, community impact coordinator.

“Usually we get a lot of people who want to help,” she said. “It is always a higher demand, but those collections always come through.”

Schools are also a big source of donations for local charities.

Students from all school districts in the county have donated about 20,000 canned goods that will be used to fill the Good Cheer Fund baskets that are delivered to local families, said Jake Sappenfield, chairman of the fund.

“The schools are always pretty consistent,” he said.

Donations of money are then used to supplement the baskets with fresh food, such as ham, milk and eggs, Sappenfield said.

Monetary giving to the annual Good Cheer fund is down so far, Sappenfield said.

Donors had given about $24,000, with about a week left before the annual distribution, he said. Nearly half of that came from the annual Jim Rhoades Memorial Hog Roast, which this year raised a high of about $11,000 each for the Good Cheer Fund and the Interchurch Food Pantry.

“We are running a little bit short,” he said.¬†

Running short is not new for the fund.

Donations are always low about a week before Christmas, and the fund is buoyed by people who give at the last minute, Sappenfield said.

“The holidays kind of catch up to you,” he said. “It is something that is always put off.”

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Want to donate, here is how to give to some local charities.

Good Cheer Fund

Monetary donations can be dropped off at or mailed to the Daily Journal, P.O. Box 699, Franklin, IN 4613.

Interchurch Food Pantry

Donations are accepted during hours of operation which are noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 to 11 a.m. Saturdays; 6 to 8 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month.

The pantry is at 2900 Graham Road, Suite E., Franklin.

The Refuge

Donations can be dropped off during the pantry hours: 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The pantry is at The Hope Centre, 65 Airport Parkway, Suite 110, Greenwood.