For 21 years, local business, labor and community leaders have joined together to provide Christmas toys for needy children, this year raising about $40,000.
This all-volunteer group, known as Helping Hands, comes together each fall to raise funds which are distributed through The Salvation Army and also to local domestic violence shelters. Helping Hands has no operating expenses, so every dollar collected goes to local needy children. Lake Area United Way serves as Helping Hands’ fiscal agent.
Toys in their original packaging are also accepted at all First Midwest Bank offices.
“When we started this effort, we had no idea that we would be able to continue through all these years. We have done so because the need continues to grow,” said Calvin Bellamy, one of Helping Hands founders.
BP Whiting Business Unit is one example of how the Helping Hands campaign raises funds. Each year, BP fire department members stand at the refinery gates with their boots in hand seeking contributions from co-workers and contractors.
“No matter what the weather, our firefighters are out at refinery gates at 4 a.m.,” said BP Fire Chief Joe Grzymski.
BP Director of Government and Public Affairs Tom Keilman was quick to add, “These firefighters volunteer their time for a cause they believe in.”
NIPSCO also provided substantial support for this year’s campaign. “We very much like the idea of helping needy children in the most cost effective way possible,” said NIPSCO Public Affairs Manager Rick Calinski.
Randy Palmateer, business manager of the Northwest Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council added, “Our members and the contractors they work for know firsthand how important it is to bring hope and joy to children this time of the year.”
The City of Hammond and many other local businesses and individuals supported this year’s campaign.
The Helping Hands steering committee consists of Bellamy, of the law firm Krieg DeVault; Keilman; Palmateer; and Brad Vosberg, of First Midwest Bank.
Source: NWI Times Staff