The holidays are a time when we remember that giving can be more fulfilling than receiving.
Yet for the Region’s shelters and charities, this idea is the basis of their daily operations.
Whether it is creating holiday cheer for children or offering a place of solace and hope for families during the winter, these organizations spend their holidays doing for others and could use the help of the communities they serve.
The Buns Care Charity
The Buns Care Charity is a 2-year-old nonprofit located in Schererville and originated from a lunch meeting between old high school friends — Dr. Thomas O’Hara, who is the acting chair of the Buns Care Board of Directors, and board member Ray Hoogewerf.
“We started brainstorming just shy of two years ago over one of our regular Mexican lunches. We are both semi-retired from successful careers. We decided to find a meaningful way to give back. Nostalgically, we decided to start a charity in Northwest Indiana, our old stomping grounds,” Hoogewerf said.
The charity offers a weeklong children's shoes drive as well as annual college scholarships to local high school students who have lower grades and are from families with limited financial options. The scholarships are usually awarded to students who have high levels of work ethics but are facing difficulties with improving their grades.
“We concentrate on hardworking, motivated, bright high school seniors who may not qualify for traditional scholarships due to mediocre grades. Some of these kids must hold part-time jobs during high school because of family financial problems.”
In order for the Buns Care Charity to continue its civic outreach it needs support from the community.
Hoogewerf said the charity’s officials plan to apply for the Nike Shoe grant in the beginning of 2018. The Nike Community Impact Fund is a grassroots outreach program that is focused on giving grants and donations to nonprofits that supports children getting active. Until the grant is obtained, Buns Care Charity needs more volunteers (for social media outreach, public speaking and ambassador work), business collaborations and financial donations. Donations can be made at its Schererville office, 2301 Cline Ave. No. 107, in the form of cash, checks or by dropping off gently used shoes.
The Gary Commission for Women’s Office runs the Rainbow-Ark shelter, which was once known as two separate shelters – Rainbow’s Shelter for Battered Women and Children and the Ark Women’s Shelter. They were combined in order to solve many of the shelters financial issues. The Rainbow-Ark is asking the residents of Northwest Indiana for cards with words of encouragement or winter accessories this holiday season. Office administrators ask that anyone who is interested in giving cards or donations to call their number – 219-883-4155 – directly in order to begin the process.
Executive Director Teshezia George explains, “All donations are greatly appreciated … as we have 14 apartment units within the shelter that provide respite for women and children who suffer from homelessness and domestic violence.”
“During the holiday and winter season we are always planning to have enough coats on hand for our ever-changing population,” George said.
The Rainbow Ark could use coats, boots, hats, gloves, socks, underwear (up to 4X), baby formula and food, wipes and diapers, Gary bus passes and toiletries, including washing powders.
Gabriel’s Horn, located in Valparaiso, offers temporary shelter to women and their children. Gabriel’s Horn is completely occupied at the moment. The temporary shelter can house a maximum of 14 people. The typical length of an occupants stay can range between two to four months, but there have been circumstances where some women have stayed for six.
Direction Mignon Kennedy encourages Region residents who would like to become involved with the shelter to do so by spending time with the children. Kennedy said one key element missing from the children’s lives are experiences. “Doing things like taking them to see a movie or ice-skating, are activities that they wouldn’t normally be able to participate in Life is about the experiences and it would be nice if the children could have those kinds of opportunities,” she said.
The Gabriel’s Horn website contains a wish list section that displays what the shelter is currently in need of to community members. Kennedy said churches in the area have taken care of the usual need for winter items like coats, boots and hats.
She said the shelter is in need of everyday household items like toiletries, sanitary napkins and cleaning items. “Gas cards and cash donations are always welcomed because our NIPSCO bill does go up,” she said.
Kennedy can be contacted at the Gabriel’s Horn shelter at (219) 364-8018.