KOKOMO, Ind. — In 1952, Delco Electronics employee Peggy Witters wanted to raise money to help those in need during the holiday season.
Sixty-five years later, retired and current Delco employees are continuing that tradition of giving through the Del-Ra Nut Club.
The forty-member organization, which refer to themselves as the “Nut Ladies,” sells hundreds of boxes and packages of nuts and candies every year by going to local businesses and setting up shop there. They have sold at Hallmark, Kroger, Coca Cola Bottling Company, Harley Davidson, Haynes Community Credit Union, Choo Choo McGoo’s and many more places throughout the community during October, November and December.
On average, the nonprofit organization raises about $20,000 for charities, including their main benefactor, Bona Vista.
When the nonprofit organization, which offers day programs for adults with physical and mental disabilities, opened in 1958, it became the main charity that Del-Ra Nut Club supports.
Troy Bowers, community education coordinator at Bona Vista, has been working with the club for the 15 years he has been at the nonprofit.
“Besides the money that they give, they actually come here every single month and volunteer in some way,” Bowers said. “I can’t even begin to calculate how many hours they have put in over the last few years.”
Some, like 27-year member Maggie Hart, joined the Del-Ra Nut Club just because they love helping people.
“I enjoy being with the people and selling,” Hart said. “It’s just been a good group to be with and I love that we give to charity.”
She said her favorite part of volunteering has been just working in the stores with her fellow volunteers.
Helen Olson, who retired from Delco after 38 years in 2006, was persuaded to join by one of her old coworkers. She bumped into Joni Walls, who then asked her to volunteer.
Walls has been a part of the Del-Ra Nut Club organization for 20 years and joined because Bona Vista truly changed the life of someone near and dear to her heart. Her son, Jacob, has special needs and has been with Bona Vista since he was 5-weeks-old.
“Bona Vista has been very good for him,” Walls said. “So I make sure that we are there for Bona Vista.”
Together, Olson and Walls go to different businesses and sell to employees, who wait for them to visit every year.
“It is kind of like donating blood — you can just give up a little bit of your time and know that you’re helping people,” Olson said. “We enjoy seeing the people. Sometimes it’s the only chance we have to see some people is when we’re selling nuts.”
Olson said people buy the nuts not only because the money raised goes towards good causes, but also because of the quality of the product.
“The product is just wonderful,” she said. “People will freeze the pecans so they will last all year.”
The nuts, made by Terri Lynn Inc., are shipped in from a facility in Elgin, Illinois. Aside from a vast selection of nuts, Del-Ra also sells Terri Lynn gummi bears, chocolate covered nuts, trail mixes, yogurt-covered raisins and other dried fruit.
The group meets on the third Tuesday of the month, March through October, said Del-Ra Nut Club Treasurer Joan Householder.
“Since we don’t have a meeting house per say, Salvation Army lets us use their community center,” she said.
Householder said members do not have to be exclusively retired Delco employees.
“We are always looking for fresh blood,” she laughed.
Just in 2017, the Del-Ra Nut Club has given to nearly two dozen local charities, including Bona Vista, The Salvation Army, Howard Haven, Kokomo Rescue Mission, Kokomo Urban Outreach, Life Skills Bon-Air, American Legion_Girls State, the Literacy Coalition, Open Arms, Samaritan Care Givers, Southern Care Hospice, We Care, Gilead House, Howard County Mental Health Association, Kokomo Humane Society, Jackson Street Commons, Eastern, Life Skills Western, Birthright, Howard County Relay and Bona Vista Brick.
“It means everything to us — there are so many projects that they have saved the agency with by donating not just money, but their time,” Bona Vista’s Bowers said.
Source: Kokomo Tribune
Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.ktonline.com
This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by the Kokomo Tribune.