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Thanks to you, our clients enjoyed the holidays

Sadly, during the holiday season, not everyone is able to fully enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays that fall around this time of year in the traditional sense with abundant amounts of food, family members, lavish decorations, and several presents for all of their loved ones. Clients of Volunteers of America of Indiana fall into this category since many of them are affected by incarceration, homelessness, poverty, and mental illness.

But thanks to generosity from their fellow community members acting as volunteers, many of them were able to eat a lot of food, see their family, and receive gifts like many of us. Read on to learn more about how the spirit of giving during this time of year has Hoosiers helping Hoosiers.

To kick everything off, volunteers from Greenwood Christian Church served the Veterans who reside at Lincoln Apartments, subsidized housing for previously homeless Veterans. They prepared everything but the turkeys (the residents roasted 7 turkeys that were donated from Brighthouse). The residents were very grateful for the full meal and enjoyed the company that this friendly volunteer group provided.

Next up was a men's volunteer group from Northview church, which consisted mostly of Veterans, who served the residents at Brandon Hall.They have been catering to these men for the past 20 years and provided more than enough food to go around. It was a very lively event as the Veterans were able to share stories and rejoice in the holiday spirit with the volunteers involved. Each of the volunteers made a dish that harvested into a great spread including ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, shrimp cocktail, green bean casserole, Hawaiian rolls and an array of dessert pies with ice cream.

One member of the church gave a motivational speech prior to eating and giving blessing. They were also kind enough to donate clothing items and had door prizes that consisted of brand new winter gear apparel such as coats, hats and gloves. It was a pleasant evening that brought the residents together with other men from the community.

A few days before Thanksgiving, AMVETS in Evansville donated seventeen Thanksgiving baskets full of everything for a Thanksgiving feast. The staff was then able to distribute them to clients of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. Below is a picture of Roberta, a Veteran of the Air Force, with her son; they both greatly enjoyed the donated meal and were glad that their cupboards would be full that week.

Then the Christmas season started, and The Richard Lugar Safe Haven and Liberty Landing in Fort Wayne both received beautiful Christmas trees. The Harris Corporation made a donation for Volunteers of America of Indiana to decorate a Christmas tree for the "31st Annual Embassy Festival of Trees" that took place in Fort Wayne during the first week of December. The residents of both of these facilities for Veterans transitioning from homelessness were so happy to see some holiday cheer in their temporary home.

In Indianapolis, many women who reside at Theodora House were able to pick out and wrap donated toys for their children. Later that day, Santa was able to deliver the presents at a festive and fun Christmas party. Several volunteers participated in this event, including a group from Accredo, individuals who are familiar with Theodora House, and a group from Southeastern Church of Christ which provides a Christmas luncheon for residents of Theodora House every year.

All of these events and displays of kindness have had positive effects on volunteers and participants alike. Thank you everyone for helping vulnerable populations in Indiana by supporting Volunteers of America of Indiana. You can continue to help homeless Veterans and individuals transitioning from incarceration by following us on Facebook or making a financial contribution. Every little thing counts. Happy holidays!