Goshen-area agencies have Christmas 'wish lists'
GOSHEN, Dec 03, 2012 (Goshen News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
During the holiday season, when gift giving is on the minds of many, local non-profit agencies have Christmas wishes of their own.
Sometimes the greatest gift can be that of "helping the helpers." Agencies are often in need of office supplies and new equipment. The Goshen Salvation Army is hoping for donations to replace its outdated computer lab, according to Maj. Allen Hanton.
"We originally had a 10-laptop computer lab donated through a foundation," Hanton said. "We have not been able to keep up with technology and those computers are now very antiquated."
The computers are used by and for clients. With the laptops, clients are helped with job searches online, with creating resumes, checking email and with filling out various government forms for assistance.
Hanton said the old computers are not compatible with many of the tasks the clients need to better their situations or receive assistance. He is hoping funds can be raised to purchase new computers and software -- but not just any computers will work.
"The Salvation Army has a certain standard that we have to use," he said. "With the firewall that we have in our building and the things we have to put on them, we need a certain type of computer."
So funds, rather than donated computers, are what the agency needs, Hanton said.
The Salvation Army is also always in need of donations of non-perishable food items for the food pantry.
"Food comes in and goes out as quickly," Hanton said. "For the past four or five months, it has cost around $2,500 a month to keep the pantry to the point where we can give out food."
Hanton said donations can be made in someone's name as a Christmas gift.
"We will write to the person they are donating in honor of, saying an amount of non-perishables have been given in their name," Hanton said. "It will say 'it will help X amount of families' so they know they are being honored."
Hanton said he hopes the giving spirit will keep on past the holidays as well, as the winter months can be especially hard on the food pantry stock.
The Window is also in need of non-perishable items for its clients, as well as warm winter clothing.
"When it comes to donations, when it is winter, we always need winter gear," said Executive Assistant Lisa Thompson. "Some of our clients are actually homeless. They have nothing but a flimsy summer coat."
She said men's items are very hard to come by.
"We never have enough of men's gloves, pants, coats and hats," she said.
Thompson said her agency also sees a drop off of giving after the holidays and she hopes those less fortunate will remain in people's thoughts after the tree is down.
"In February, March and April, things sort of slack off," she said.
The gift of time and effort would also be appreciated at The Window, especially with its Meals on Wheels program, which provides food delivery to homebound and the elderly.
"We are having drivers drop out," Thompson said. "A lot of them (drivers) are elderly and it is getting harder for them to get out and around. Meals on Wheels needs drivers and dispatchers."
The Boys & Girls Club of Goshen is also hoping for the gift of time this holiday season and beyond.
"We can always use volunteers," said Associate Executive Director Marc Vendl. "We are really looking for volunteers with woodworking skills right now."
Along with many other educational and art programs, the agency has a woodworking shop.
Vendl said monetary donations for education supplies and day-to-day operations are also welcome and can be given in a loved one's name this Christmas.
Buying a gift for a friend or family can also spread holiday cheer times three at one local retailer.
Ten Thousand Villages, 206 S. Main St., Goshen, has designated "giving back" shopping Thursdays on which a portion of the proceeds are donated to local non-profits, according to Education Coordinator Susan Nelson.
Ten Thousand Villages Goshen is one of a network of nonprofit fair trade retailers in the United States and Canada. Fair trade retailers work with artisans in more than 35 countries in developing regions in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. The agency builds trading relationships in which artisans receive a fair price for their handmade crafts.
On the Thursdays leading up to Christmas, a portion of the sales proceeds will benefit non-profits, including Hello Gorgeous Dec. 6 and IU Health Goshen Hospital's charitable foundation Dec. 13.
"It not only makes a wonderful gift for the person you are giving it to, it benefits the artisans directly and gives back to the community," Nelson said. "It can make you feel good about spending your money."
There is a large selection of gifts for people of both genders and all ages, Nelson said. For a woman, perhaps handcrafted jewelry or a scarf. For men, handmade wallets or unique puzzles. For the budding chef, cookbooks are available. And there are many children's toys and novelties. The store also carries a wide variety of home decor and other items.
The volunteers who staff the store will also gift wrap the items with paper and bows made by artists in Bangladesh, Nelson said. Or the paper can be purchased for wrapping at home.
Gift giving doesn't have to be tangible. In Goshen, there is an opportunity to provide the gift of mental health to people unable to afford treatment. Each year, Oaklawn touches the lives of thousands in the community who suffer from mental illness and addiction, according to Matthew Lentsch, director of development. Oaklawn provides millions of dollars in patient assistance and charity care, with approximately 30 percent of the annual budget allocated to some form of patient financial assistance, Lentsch reported. Donations can be made through the Oaklawn Foundation for Mental Health, a non-profit organization, for several different purposes, including:
--Charity care, to make mental health and addiction care available to everyone who needs it, regardless of background, belief or ability to pay.
--Endowments, which guarantee Oaklawn services for future generations.
--Capital needs, providing the latest tools and technology.
Sponsorships at Loveway are another way of holiday giving. The agency provides therapeutic horseback riding for disabled children at no cost to the child. According to Shelley Becker, development associate, the public can sponsor a student for a semester for $375. They can also adopt a horse for Christmas. The donor can pick the animal they wish to adopt. A $250 donation provides tack, feed and veterinarian expenses. A $100 donation provides a personalized halter and matching saddle blanket; $50 a new lead rope fly mask and water bucket; and $25 a bag of grain and feeder bucket for the stall.
Along with donations for day-to-day operations, donations are needed for the agency's "Journey of the Spirit Horse" program, the second stage of its "Cowboy Poetry" program. The classes teach troubled students -- through a relationship with the horses -- honor, integrity, self-esteem, forgiveness, trust and responsibility. There are many art sessions requiring supplies that go along with the curriculum, Thompson said, and donations can be made for that purpose.
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