As you sit down with your family for Christmas dinner and prepare to give thanks, offer a prayer and thank you to the Greene County Clothe-A-Child/Toys for Tots program.
There's a pretty good chance your family's little ones had something to open Christmas morning, but there are many in Greene County who aren't as fortunate.
And some don't have a good pair of shoes, warm coat or gloves to call their own.
That's where the Clothe-A-Child/Toy for Tots program comes into play. And in a big way.
Close to 600 county children were either offered clothing or toys this year because of the efforts of many outstanding individuals who are part of Linton Civitan Club, Ladies Civitan Club, Linton Rotary Club, Bloomfield Rotary Club, and Bloomfield Psi Iota Xi.
The final dollar amount for donations won't be known until later because fundraising efforts continue until the end of the year. But the final event is today in Bloomfield when toys are distributed at the Bloomfield United Methodist Church and the annual Christmas dinner is served between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The dinner is sponsored by the Soup on Saturday group in Bloomfield, and is open to anyone.
Toys were distributed to children in the western part of the county Thursday night at Saron United Church of Christ in Linton, followed by a Christmas dinner.
Clothes were purchased for children last week.
Clothe-A-Child/Toys for Tots served 50 more children this year.
"We had 50 more children eligible this year, which means considerable more money was needed," Karen Strueh, one of the organizers for the program, said Friday morning. "If it had not been for REMC's big donation ($5,000) we would have been in the hole.
"We started the year by carrying some money over, but once we were done shopping (this year) we would have been dipping into our reserves (without the REMC donation)."
Ireland Home Based Services, a company that has an office in Bloomfield and serves 18 southern Indiana counties, also provided a large donation.
Strueh said money raised from the bell-ringing stations around the county "is a little bit down from past years," pointing to the economy as the major reason.
She added that the Family Life Center in Bloomfield has done a great job of helping children Clothe-A-Child/Toys for Tots can't.
"(The FLC) helps keep tabs on who hasn't been served and who's on various lists. They're really good at picking up the slack," Strueh explained.
"We had to cut off applications in early November, but we continue (to be asked for help). We refer them to (the FLC), and the ladies there work hard to make sure they're bought for."
The Clothe-A-Child/Toys for Tots program is a perfect example of how people can come together for a common cause and do a world of good.
The same happened with the Linton Community Food Pantry. It started at St. Peter's Catholic Church, but now the list of churches involved includes Linton Assembly of God, Saron United Church of Christ, First Christian Church, First United Methodist Church, and Trinity Lutheran Church.
"Once upon a time only Linton Civitan was doing it. Clothe-A-Child maybe served 100 kids in the western part of the county. As it got bigger Linton Civitan Club decided we can't do it all anymore," Strueh recalled. "Groups had their own projects, so they kind of merged with us. That's the only way we can serve 600 kids."
It's not too late to donate.
You can mail your contributions to Greene County Clothe-a-Child, P.O. Box 516, Linton, Ind., 47441. You can also stop by one of the bell-ringing stations displaying the project's Santa logo. Bell-ringers are located in Linton at Angell's Food Center, Walmart, and Save-a-Lot, in Bloomfield at the IGA, and in downtown Jasonville as volunteers are available.
Greene County Daily World Staff Writer Anna Rochelle made a great point in her column earlier this week. Christmas isn't about buying gifts, sending cards or even what's for Christmas dinner. It's about the little things ... saying thank you, patting someone on the back or just making someone feel good.
What better way to celebrate Christmas and close out a year than by donating to a great cause to help others.
Merry Christmas, and God bless you and your family.