Most charitable town in America


Four words. That’s how it started. 

“I have an idea,” Leigh Ann Akard said. For those of you who know her, this is not the first time you have heard these words, and I’m certain, won’t be the last. But, it was these four words that empowered a small group of Zionsville residents to grant a Christmas wish to a local 12-year-old boy with special needs.

You have likely heard the story by now of Hawk and his mother, who were isolated and without transportation. At the VIP Christmas event on Dec. 6, Hawk’s wish to Santa was for a van so his family could get around. This is where the seed was planted and volunteers, like Akard and others, took action. On Christmas Eve, a van arrived filled with presents including groceries, gift cards, gas cards, and food for Hawk’s service dog, Tanner, while carolers sang on their lawn. The next day a stranger appeared at their door with a television.

Four words, a group of volunteers, a wish to Santa and the rest is history.

As great as this story is, it is not an unusual one, not in Zionsville at least. After wandering around town for more than a year, I can say with certainty that if there was an award for the “Most Charitable Town in America,” Zionsville would be a contender. In fact, I just did a quick Google search and there are actually awards for the most generous towns, but many are based on monetary donations. While money is important what about time? What about those volunteers who showed up at 4:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve on Hawk’s lawn to make his Christmas wish come true? If that isn’t an award winner, I don’t know what is.

I am currently working on a story on Zionsville groups who have made an impact on the community and beyond. If you have a project or person you would like to include, please let me know. I will likely have to allocate extra space for this story – probably the whole paper!

And my wandering continues, in the “most charitable town in America.”


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