By Anna Skinner
After a successful start in 2014, Secret Families of Hamilton County will return for a second year of bringing Christmas to underprivileged families.
The nonprofit works with local school principals and counselors to find families who will not be able to have a Christmas celebration. Secret Families raises funds to spend $550 per family.
“We call and interview the family and get the names of everyone in the household and their sizes and what their needs are and what the younger kids like,” said Tom Flanagan, executive director and “head elf” of Secret Families of Hamilton County. “We stress that we serve needs not wants. Every family member gets a bag of wrapped presents purchased and wrapped specifically for them, a decorated live Christmas tree and a $50 Meijer gift card.”
Secret Families of Hamilton County does all their shopping at the Noblesville Meijer. Last year, the organization served families in Westfield Washington Schools, Noblesville Schools and Hamilton Southeastern Schools.
The money raised comes mostly from private donations, Flanagan said. He said that five or six churches are also very active in the nonprofit.
Flanagan is still searching for volunteers for Dec. 12 to shop for the families and wrap and deliver the gifts.
“We encourage kids to participate. There’s no better time to teach them about generosity than when they are young,” Flanagan said. “It’s just an amazing event. It affects our volunteers nearly as much as it affects the families we serve.”
On Dec. 12, shopping begins at the Noblesville Meijer, 17000 Mercantile Blvd., at 6 a.m. Wrapping the gifts follows at 8:30 a.m. at Promise Road Elementary, 14975 Promise Rd., and all gifts will be delivered by 2 p.m.
“It’s a hectic day, I think it’s fun for everybody,” Flanagan said. “Local churches have responded very warmly and the school districts have responded very warmly. It was just a fun, fun time (last year) and there was a lot of fellowship that took place.”
To donate or volunteer, visit www.secretfamilieshc.org.