By Mark Ambrogi
Tom Flanagan is hoping participation and donations for Secret Families of Hamilton County grows in its second year.
The organization is based on the model started in Muncie and Delaware County several years ago by Flanagan’s friend Al Holden. Madison County started five years ago. Flanagan and his wife Mary Beth started it in Hamilton County in 2014.
“Working on recommendations from school principals and guidance counselors from elementary schools in the area, they provide us with names of families that are in extreme need at Christmas time,” Flanagan said.
The school districts represented Noblesville, Westfield and Fishers. Flanagan said as funds grow, they will add schools.
The event is set for Dec. 12, with volunteers shopping in the morning at the Meijer. Presents are then wrapped and delivered that day.
Volunteers also may register to work that day. There were 110 volunteers last year.
“We’re hoping to serve 10 to 15 families this year,” said Flanagan, whose group served eight families and 40 individuals last year.
Flanagan said they spend $550 per family.
“We interview the family so we get the names, ages and sizes of everyone in the household along with their needs,” Flanagan said. “We serve needs not wants. For the younger kids, we will take care of some wants as well. Every little boy and girl need their Barbie doll or toy truck at Christmas time. We do those things, but also take care of clothing needs, etc.”
In addition to individually wrapped presents for every one in the family, the family will get a decorated Christmas tree, a bible and a $50 Meijer gift card to purchase food for the holiday.
“Meijer has been a great partner with us,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan said the nonprofit organization raises most of its money from individual donations.
“Well over 95 percent of the donations go to the families,” Flanagan said. “We don’t pay any salaries.”
The only money that does not support the families goes to bank and credit card fees.
For more, to donate or to get involved, visit secretfamilieshc.org.