The Andover Caring and Sharing program was founded in 1995 by Kay Palmer, former owner of the Andover Journal-Advocate. Its mission was to help needy families in Andover, particularly during the holidays.
Palmer has passed on, but Caring and Sharing is going stronger than ever. Last year the non-profit organization not only helped 95 Andover households during the holiday season, it also provided the school district with money for eye exams, eye glasses, band instrument repair and its summer school lunch program. It also helped fund travel expenses to a cancer treatment center for Andover residents.
Leon Hiebert, a longtime pastor in Andover, serves as treasurer for Hometown Christmas. It typically operates from a budget between $2,000 and $3,000, he said - although it’s difficult to put a cash value on a program that relies so heavily on donated items.
There’s not a lot of fat in the annual report that Hiebert presents to the Andover City Council. There’s a little room for advertising. A post office box costs $26 a year, Hiebert said.
“Our guideline is, if something is donated to us, we pass it on,” said Susan Bradley, Sharing and Caring coordinator.
Bradley is Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences for Butler Community College. She volunteers for Caring and Sharing all year long, which includes about 20 hours a week this time of year.
About one-third of the gifts donated to Caring and Sharing are collected during Hometown Christmas.
“The intense part of the work is from Thanksgiving on,” Bradley said. “We have a big crew of people helping us and we just identify needs from year to year. It’s a blessing to be involved.”
Three ways you can help
Caring and Sharing anticipates serving a record number of families this year, many with children. The Andover Police and Fire Departments assist with collection and distribution.
All kinds of donations are accepted - canned food, unopened gifts and of course, cash. Bradley said new items for adults like razors, candles, hygiene products and gift cards from Wal-Mart or Target are always appreciated.
If you want further information, know of a family in need or want to adopt a family, call Bradley at (316) 218-6215.
Donations are accepted until Dec. 16, and delivery begins December 22. Here are three ways you can donate:
1. Drop off new toys, food or other gifts at the Andover Fire Station (911 N. Andover Rd.), Andover Public Library (1511 E. Central), Equity Bank (-225 W. Central) or Timbuktu Bar and Grill (1251 N. Andover Rd.)
2. Drop them off at Hometown Christmas, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 at Central Park.
3. Mail a check to Andover Caring and Sharing, P.O. Box 413, Andover, KS 67002.