CHECKING IN: Toyota Material Handling North America, Cummins share holiday help with United Way agencies

With Christmas music heralding the joy of goodwill playing in the background, the leaders of two of Bartholomew County’s largest manufacturers demonstrated their own holiday goodwill by making annual matching donations to local nonprofits Wednesday afternoon

The presentations took place at United Way of Bartholomew County’s office on Thirteenth Street on Wednesday.

It marked the fourth year that Tom Linebarger, Cummins Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer, and Brett Wood, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Material Handling North America, made a total donation of $20,000 divided among four United Way agencies.

The giving grew out of a lunch meeting the two executives shared about five years ago. It has become a highly visible way for the two firms to make a difference in the county — and to thank the United Way agencies for all they do for some of this area’s struggling residents.

The agencies that each received $5,000 checks are:

Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, which will marks its holiday Angels of Love gift giveaway Sunday for 700 lower-income youngsters and their families.

Su Casa, which is a major cog in assisting Latino families in the area with a range of programs such as Vecinas De Enlace (Neighborhood Point Persons), focusing on everything from language development to career development.

Thrive Alliance, planning to use its money on its dementia care programs, including a new robotic pet program.

Sans Souci, meaning “without worry,” with its most visible outreach to the struggling being a discount store of clothing and more, plus considerable, hands-on job training.

“By my definition, you are stars,” Wood told agency representatives. “We may not always see you, but you are there.”

Linebarger reminded a small gathering in United Way’s conference room that he was raised by a single mom with help from other families who experienced divorce.

“I am sure that I wouldn’t be standing here today before you without the help of people just like you,” Linebarger said, adding that he grew up underprivileged and added that he often thinks of others facing more challenges than he did. “Our world is not fair. Not all of us have the same wind at our back.”

Mark Stewart, United Way president, thanked the firms for their “incredible generosity.”

“We could not do what we do without your support,” Stewart said. “And that’s not just the financial contributions, but also the volunteerism, and the advocacy.”

United Way’s 17 nonprofit agencies representing 32 programs reach more than one-third of the county population, according to United Way figures.

Linebarger mentioned that the corporate community often moves a bit too fast amid a current world of substantial need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cummins has a core value of caring,” Linebarger said. “I’ve come to the conclusion that that sometimes means slowing down enough to really see people. And that means stopping long enough to really look at them — and looking at the world from their perspective instead of just yours.”