Community Embraces Spirit of the Season

by Jim Amidon

December 20, 2004

I’m pretty sure I know what it was about last Friday morning that had  me so lively and in such a good mood.

It was partly the crisp morning air and bright sunshine. Some of it was that I woke up without coughing for the first time in five weeks. And it was that the weekend, a pre-holiday weekend, was close on the horizon.

That my family finally got its Boys and Girls Club Christmas tree probably had something to do with it. (That it fell over, fully decorated, less than four hours after I proudly pronounced it "done" is another story for another time.)

But the real reason for my happy spirit, I think, was that I just love living in this community at this time of year. This is the time when we forget about all of our egos and issues and come together to help those who are less fortunate.

I got word last week that the Wabash College social service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, had completed its Relay for Riley fund drive. Not only did those dozen students run 50 miles to Riley Children’s Hospital, but organizer John Meyer told me they had reached their goal of $10,000 to donate to the hospital. Wow, what a gesture; what an accomplishment by busy college students.

Then, mid-morning on Friday, I went over to the Montgomery County Family Crisis Shelter, where I snapped a photograph of Wabash junior Brett Gann handing a $650 check to Anita Byers. Gann and his Wabash friends collected money during the Monon Bell Classic with the purpose of a donation to help victims of domestic violence.

Talking with Anita and Irene Selby, I once again learned a whole lot about domestic violence and what it takes to sustain the Family Crisis Shelter. I was so gratified to see -- literally -- cars unloading donations as we talked. Dick Munro at the radio station told me that the Big O Tires promotion had yielded another truckload of donations to the shelter (I saw the gifts in the lobby of the station and was very impressed).

Irene told me that the shelter is well stocked for the holidays. She said that our community really responded this year with donations of needed supplies, as well as gifts for the women and children who take refuge there.

I was positively soaring when I left. My hope was that Irene would have a real need that my family and a few others might provide. "We’re all set," she said.

The great news was that she said the holidays would be as bright as possible for the families housed there. There is, of course, a caveat to remember: none of the women and children who live there choose to live there; they go to the Family Crisis Shelter because they don’t feel safe anywhere else. But for the next few weeks, there will be gifts for children and their moms and food on the table.

Then reality kicks in and it starts all over again for the shelter. After the holidays, when stress mounts and bills need to be paid, the cycle of violence begins anew.

The shelter will fill up and the list of needs starts all over again. Diapers, baby wipes, children’s clothes, cleaning products, and non-perishable foods will need to be restocked.

That our community needs a Family Crisis Shelter is terribly sad. That we have one that is efficiently run by workers and volunteers alike is noble. That our community continues to support it -- and so many worthy agencies like the Sunshine Society, Christian Nursing Service, and FISH -- makes me happy to live and work here.

This community has an unselfish knack for identifying needs and responding to them. The holidays bring out the best in us. Let’s just try real hard in 2005 to sustain that same spirit of love and giving throughout the year. Perhaps then we’ll all have that lively, happy step we do on those crisp pre-holiday mornings.

Jim Amidon is Director of Public Affairs for Wabash College. He writes this weekly column for the Crawfordsville Journal Review.


Wabash College • P.O. Box 352 • Crawfordsville, IN 47933 • 765.361.6100