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Friday, October 28, 2016

Making Christmas Bright


It’s hard to believe, and some of my co-workers will want to throttle me for saying this, but there are only 58 days left until Christmas. I know, I know. It’s not even Halloween yet and I keep bringing up Christmas. Yes, I’m one of THOSE people. Ask anyone who knows me at all and they’ll probably say something about what a Christmas crazed person I am (hi, Susie and Charlie!). They’re not wrong. I love basically everything about Christmas. The decorations, the baked goods, shopping for gifts for people, the music, sending out Christmas cards. Yes, I even love cold weather and snow.  I blame my grandma, who loves Christmas about as much as it’s possible to love a holiday.

 

Of course when I was younger, Christmas was all about the latest toy or book I wanted, if my cousins got more stuff than I did from “Santa,” the various Christmas parties with family and at school. It wasn’t until I started getting a bit older that it became more than a time when I got gifts and we looked at pretty lights.

 

The last few years whenever someone’s asked me what I want for Christmas, I struggle to give them ideas because the truth is, I don’t want for much of anything. If there’s something I need or want, I usually buy it myself when I can afford it. Nothing feels pressing in that aspect of my life anymore, and I’m beyond grateful for that.

 

I think working at Dove, Inc., for the last twelve years has made me reevaluate what’s important in life, and recognize the difference between want and need. I’ve grown as a person (again, ask nearly anyone who’s known me since I started at this agency in 2004), but my love of Christmas still remains, albeit in a very different form from my childhood and even early adulthood. Instead of feeling excited about what “Santa” may be bringing me for Christmas, I get excited about how I can help bring Christmas to as many others as possible.

 

I do this through the Christmas Baskets Program. If you’re not familiar with how the program works, the basics are this: we work with approximately 20 other agencies and groups who refer anywhere from one to fifteen families they work with to receive a food and gift basket. We partner with North East Community Fund for this huge project, and together we do anywhere from 320 to 350 complete Christmas baskets for families in Decatur. We compare our lists against Salvation Army’s, and St. James Church’s and any others we can compare them to, to make sure no one is being “double-served” so that more families who need it can receive assistance. It’s a lengthy process that we usually begin in October and that doesn’t end until every basket has found its home.

 

For most of my years at Dove, Francie Johnson ran the Christmas Baskets Program through the Community Services Program. As you may know, due to the state budget, that program was cut in 2015, which means that Francie was no longer with our agency, much to our devastation. I worked in domestic violence from 2004 – 2013, then transferred to Community Services from 2013 until I was laid off due to said budget cuts. Thankfully for me there was an opening back in domestic violence and I was able to stay with Dove (because honestly, I never want to go anywhere else, and can’t imagine having to do so). I was asked by Dove’s Leadership Team to handle the Christmas Baskets Program last year, and I agreed immediately because it’s near and dear to my heart.

 

It’s a lot of work – literally making lists and checking them twice and three times – and fortunately everyone at Dove, as well as countless numbers of volunteers, takes part in helping to make it a success. Whether it’s helping carry donations to and from storage areas, talking to their friends and family who decide to take up a collection of items for the drive or organize a fundraiser, sorting and counting donations, shopping for hats, gloves, and toys, making stockings – everything that anyone does, no matter how small they think their contribution is – makes a difference. Last year we served 335 families (1296 individuals) with Christmas baskets. One hundred and twenty-five volunteers participated, spending nearly 500 hours in one week’s time putting things together for each family.

 

The generosity of people in Central Illinois continually amazes me. Whether it’s monetary giving to the program, or buying toys, or hats and gloves, or their time; the fact that we can put together a complete Christmas basket for that many families in such a short time period is nothing short of miraculous. And isn’t Christmas the season of miracles?

 

If you’ve never been a part of this process, I so encourage you to come out this year to the basement of First United Methodist between December 15th and December 22nd and see what we’re doing. As much as I’ve always loved Christmas, I’ve come to realize that being able to actually help so many families is where the true sense of joy and accomplishment comes from. It is giving, not receiving, that makes Christmas bright.

 

 

Angela Williams

Administrative Specialist/Christmas Baskets Coordinator

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What is acceptable?


In October, the winds of change blow as summer gives way to fall.  Trees change colors as the browns and oranges of fall replace the lush green of summer.  October also brings the color purple, as the nation remembers victims and survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For too many years, people made jokes about domestic violence.  They too often laughed at the victim and empowered the abuser by just going along with what he or she did.  Even if they heard or saw violence happening in their neighborhoods they “didn’t want to be involved”.   For far too long it was believed that what happened in the home needed to stay in the home.  Victims and children who lived in homes where violence occurred were told not to talk about it for fear of “what the neighbors would think.”  Many times some of the people who acted in this way were the officials who were supposed to support the victim and stop the violence and hold the perpetrator accountable.  They were supposed to treat the abuse for what it is………..a crime.  A crime against the victim and a crime against the state.  This behavior is unacceptable.

What is acceptable?  If we could imagine utopia, what would it look like?  Obviously, in a perfect world, all of us would live in harmony, each accepting and celebrating the unique differences between people……their religions, lifestyles, and culture.  There would be no violence, including domestic violence.  Anyone who watches TV news or accesses social media knows we are nowhere close to that in today’s society.  This year, with violence in our cities and towns, with hatred spewed daily in our political races, is far from our imagined utopia.  Indeed, with the media and various social media sites immersing us in vitriol and hate daily, it is almost possible to imagine how a victim of domestic violence feels.

But what can we do to change attitudes and to bring about positive changes?  We can take a vow to stand together against domestic violence.  By standing together, we can be sure that victims of domestic violence know that they are believed, that they are validated, and that they are supported.  By standing together, we can be sure that abusers are arrested, prosecuted, and that they understand that their actions are wrong and not acceptable to society.  By standing together, we can support each other as we work to end domestic violence and to ensure that families can live in homes that are safe and secure.  I urge all of you to take a stand against domestic violence, to vow to do something new and different to bring us a little closer to a peaceful world.

Spread kindness and peace instead of vitriol and hate.  Be the change you want to see.

 

Susie KensilShelby County CoordinatorDomestic Violence Program

Friday, October 7, 2016

25th Annual Coats for Kids

Just the facts!
 
The 2016 Coats for Kids drive will begin October 12.  We will be collecting good, used coats for families in need through November 30.  And of course, we'll accept new coats for kids!
 
It's simple, look in your closets for coats you no longer need -- (all sizes accepted, it's a coat drive focusing on kids, but we are happy to help out adults too).  Take them to one of the places listed below and  place in the collection barrel.  We'll take it from there!
 
Participating Cleaners will make sure the coats are clean and fresh and ready for the clothing rooms to distribute. (All addresses Decatur unless noted otherwise.) 


WAND is and has been the cosponsor for the event all 25 year!  Thanks for that support!
 
Below is a confirmed participation list as of today:
 
Participating Cleaners
 
Classic Cleaner, 2474 N. Main


Corner Cleaning Connections, 1154 E. Prairie Ave.


Peerless Cleaners, 519 N. Monroe


Pride Cleaners and Launderers
  2553 N. Main
     1804 E. Eldorado
        912 W. Eldorado
          2056 Mt. Zion Road

 Waite's Dry Cleaners and Launderers
  1004 S. Main, Decatur
      664 W. Eldorado
         115 Magnolia, Forsyth

 
Drop off sites will have collection barrels to drop off your coats:
 

 Archer's Alley, 1331 N. 22 Street
 
CVS
  2990 N. Monroe
      570 N. Fairview
         1595 E. Cantrell Rd
 
Decatur Public Library, 130 N. Franklin
 
Decatur Public Transit Building
   and administration building E. Wood and MLK
 
Decatur Township Offices, 1620 S. Taylorville Road
 
GT Church, 500 S. 27th Decatur
 
Jerger Pediatric Dentistry, P.C., 2101 N. Main, Decatur
 
Kroger
  Brettwood Plaza
     South Shores Plaza
       Fairview Plaza
          Airport Plaza
 
Land of Lincoln Credit Union
  2890 N. Oakland
     3130 E. Mound
       4850 E Prosperity Place
 
Longcreek Township, 2610 Salem School Road
 
Regions
   2340 Mt. Zion Rd.
      350 N. Water
         1355 W. King
            333 E. Pershing Rd
 
Richland Community College, #1 College Park, Decatur
 
Soy Capital Bank and Trust
   560 E. Pershing
      455 N. Main
         4825 US Route 36
             1685 S. Franklin
 
St. Teresa High School, 2710 N. Water Street
 
Texas Roadhouse, US 51 North
    If you donate your coat at Texas Roadhouse, you'll get a free appetizer

We'll post a list of the participating clothing rooms, after we start delivering the clean coats.
Thanks in advance!