More than $27,000 has been collected for the Good Neighbor Christmas Cheer Fund this year, as organizers celebrate a season where donations came in ahead of pace.
“Just to make it, I'm thrilled,” said John Gescheidler, who organizes the fund with his son.
The Cheer Fund set out to collect $25,000 for its 80th year of giving back to the community by helping local families afford Christmas dinner. The fund partners with The Salvation Army Hammond/Munster Corps to provide the grocery vouchers.
The fund was pushed over its goal before Christmas by a $5,000 check from a longtime anonymous donor — Grandpa Claus of North Hammond.
John Gescheidler, whose father used to oversee the fund, said donations still can come in through New Year's.
“I'm very happy to be on (Dec.) 26th and be ahead of pace as we've gone through this,” John Gescheidler said as he and his son, Dan Gescheidler, counted up checks Wednesday at The Times office in Munster.
The father and son were joined by the next generation of Gescheidlers — Grant Gescheidler, 9, and Isabelle Kandalec, 7 — who helped tally the checks.
John Gescheidler described the feeling as “awesome” to know that the fund would continue.
“It's the best Christmas gift I can get,” John Gescheidler said.