Look back over the year 2020, and you will see several great programs and events lying by the wayside. COVID-19 is insistent, it seems, on ruining this year. With the holidays approaching, the guidance is even to cancel most of the traditions and gatherings that bring us joy.
Enter into this scene, a spunky group of volunteers who don’t want to cancel Christmas for some in our community members who most need it.
If you’ve thought it odd that you haven’t seen the holly-bedecked containers that sprout up each November as the Volunteers for Mental Health in Montgomery County kick off their annual Gift Lift program, by inviting the community to donate gifts for individuals in nursing homes, group homes, transition housing, and treatment facilities, you should know that COVID won that round, but the fight should end on Christmas morning with almost 250 individuals still embracing gifts.
“I’ve been working with this program for almost 30 years. We’ve evaluated our processes each year, tweaked and improved for the next year. We were really happy with how last year’s program concluded,” said Kym Bushong, Gift Lift chair. “This year, our board really had to think outside of the donation box to re-invent our program during a pandemic.”
The VMHMC board analyzed its budget to determine how VMHMC could purchase at least one gift item for each client needing help.
“It’s a leap of faith,” said Denise Walker, VMHMC board president, “but we know we have the community to help hold us up!”
To limit the number of touches any sack of gift receives, the board is also taking on most of the sorting, wrapping, and delivery tasks themselves. The goal is to deliver the final gift bags in time to allow the facilities to quarantine them before distribution to the clients.
How can you help defeat the pandemic that almost stole Christmas? VMHMC is requesting monetary funds to purchase new items for the clients.
“This community has always been very generous and supportive of this program,” Bushong added. “We know many people have lost some financial stability due to the COVID-19. We’re hoping that individuals will still be able to help to whatever degree their family or organization can.”
“We’ve asked the facilities to prioritize the individual’s needs. We’ve found a way to fund at least one gift,” added Walker. “With the help of the community, we hope we can extend the number of items each individual receives.”
One additional gift that each resident will receive is already thanks to the community generosity. Montgomery County United Fund granted VMHMC the funds to purchase items to construct a toiletry kit for each individual.
“It’s just joy and love that day,” Melinda Like, Gift Lift co-chair, said of distributing the gifts. “It’s just happiness with sprinkles.”
Monetary donations can be sent to VMHMC, P.O. Box 491, Crawfordsville. Funds can also be dropped off at any Hoosier Heartland State Bank branch or at Chase Bank, 200 S. Washington St., Crawfordsville.
If you have already shopped for items, contact Bushong at 765-866-1468, Like at 217-433-7613, or Walker at 765-275-2689 to pick up the items to be stored for next year.
VMHMC is a 501(c)3 charity.