THROUGHOUT this holiday season, local residents by the thousands have given of themselves to benefit others. There are myriad opportunities for altruistic gift giving at this time of year, many of them related to Christmas.
The vehicles available represent efforts to make the season brighter for the less fortunate in our community.
In some respects, the gifts provided through these programs might be viewed as temporary — toys and food packages from the Cheer Fund, numerous holiday meals served to thousands of local families by churches and civic organizations, even Christmas wreaths placed on the graves of local men and women who served in the armed forces at various periods in their lives.
The good that is achieved through these gifts is inestimable. They make Christmas possible for some recipients.
There are other opportunities for giving at this time that go beyond the holiday season, the recipients being agencies and organizations that tend to more mundane but equally important needs in the community.
Typical of these opportunities for community outreach is the Grant a Wish program for area nonprofit agencies, launched in 2011 by the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. Instead of direct contributions to individuals or families, donors are able to direct their cash gifts to particular agencies that can spread that gift among several individuals and families.
For instance, a $25 gift for supplies used at kidscommons will provide hundreds of children with materials used in the Kids-at-Art program.
A $20 gift will provide funding for supplies and equipment used by Developmental Services Inc. for its stage productions put on by clients with developmental disabilities.
The experience with these productions gives clients the opportunity to express themselves through the arts and as a result build their self-confidence.
A similar amount can cover the cost of heartworm testing for a dog or leukemia testing for a cat at the Bartholomew County Humane Society.
The Grant a Wish program is not in competition with other aid programs associated with the holidays. In many respects, it complements these efforts, providing donors with the opportunity to direct gifts to specific organizations that in turn will be able to spread them among a variety of recipients.
These gifts benefit year-round endeavors not limited to seasonal needs. Donors also are given the opportunity to give to the cause of their choice.
Only in its third year, Grant a Wish already has amassed a strong and broad track record that touches numerous causes, ranging from the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives to the Foundation for Youth.
Last year financial donors were able to help 45 area agencies fill their holiday wishes. The goal this year is to raise $20,000 in donations, which, if successful, will be matched by gifts from a group effort, including the Heritage Fund, Elwood Staffing, MainSource and supporter Marguerite Rust.
As of Tuesday, the fund already had received more than $11,000.
The deadline for submitting donations is Dec. 31. To obtain information about the program, call 376-7772 or visit the Heritage Fund’s website, heritagefundbc.org, where the organizations and their gift lists are displayed.