Columnists

Busy Time for Good Samaritan

(The Times photo courtesy of Betsy Reason)
Nancy Chance (center), founder of Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, spends Thursday morning getting ready for today’s Thanksgiving food distribution with volunteers Gabriel Robinson (left) of Fishers, Peter Birkel and Judy Birkel of Noblesville, Susan Julian of Carmel, Lindsey Libunao, Nate Walker and Mitchell Noble, all of Fishers, and Sam Julian of Carmel.

It’s the busy time of the year for Nancy Chance.

The director of Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County has been hard at work all week — and all year — getting ready for today’s Thanksgiving food distribution at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.

The coordinator and founder of the nonprofit — in its 42nd year — Chance shares with The Times readers about the importance of the holiday-assistance giveaways here in the county.

The Noblesville woman from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today is at the Fairgrounds distributing food to people in need. They’re prepared for about 10,500 people and another 8,000 people through deliveries, she said on Thursday.

“We’ve been making food baskets for the last five days,” said Chance, who with her volunteers have been working diligently in the Fairgrounds’ Llama barn.

After spending much of today overseeing the distribution of the Thanksgiving baskets, she’ll head to GSN’s ninth annual sold-out Festival of Trees fundraiser at the Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel in Carmel. The 2021 event raised about $78,000 for GSN.

Then next week, she’s at the White River Christian Church getting ready for the 42nd annual GSN Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner and expecting 4,000 people to be served. She’s setting up on Monday, then receiving food on Tuesday and Wednesday and preparing for Thursday’s free dinner. Currently, she needs more donations of cookies and cakes and fruit pies. She also needs more volunteers on Wednesday and Thursday, and she’s asking interested volunteers to sign up online at gsnlive.org. The Thanksgiving Dinner is open to anyone from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, with a drive-thru meal only at White River Christian Church, 1685 N. 10th St., Noblesville; at Sheridan Community Center, 300 E. Sixth St., Sheridan; at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church, 11441 Hague Road, Noblesville. There is no indoor dining at any of the three locations.

(The Times photo courtesy of Betsy Reason)
Nancy Chance, founder of Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, coordinates donations and volunteers, Nate Walker and Mitchell Noble, of Fishers, and Sam Julian of Carmel, during a work day Thursday in preparation for today’s Thanksgiving food distribution at the county 4-H Fairgrounds.

She encourages people to sign up in any time increments. For those who even give an hour of their time, Chance is appreciative.

And she’s encouraging youth to volunteer.

“I want to teach kids to be concerned about other people. I want to make sure kids grow up serving people, serving our community. A lot of those kids I’ve taught over the years, they’re back (volunteering) with their kids now,” she said. “Wednesday and Thursday, we still need help.”

Just as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, GSN will also be receiving donations Dec. 5-10 at the 4-H Fairgrounds for the Dec. 10 Christmas basket distribution. She is seeking new clothing, hats, gloves, mittens and underwear, plus toys and games and other items for sizes 6 and older.

Recipients of both distribution giveaways have been prequalified; or are asked to bring completed applications. But Chance said she won’t turn anyone away if they complete the paperwork onsite.

“Each year, we strive to give three new pieces of clothing, three new toys, package of socks and underwear, as well as many of their choice of other gently used items and a generous food basket and extras for the family,” Chance has said.

She also works with the Recycled Cycles team of repairmen to ready about 500 donated bicycles that will be given away this holiday season.

Good Samaritan is also organizing Christmas Eve meals on Dec. 24 for shut-ins. The dinner is similar to Thanksgiving Dinner with the need for fruit pies, cookies and cakes, and also volunteer help.

Good Samaritan is a collaborative network of nonprofits in Hamilton County that serve the needs.

 (The Times photo courtesy of Betsy Reason)
Noblesville’s Nancy Chance, founder of Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, instructs volunteers earlier this week, in preparation for today’s Thanksgiving food distribution at the county 4-H Fairgrounds.

“People have no idea how much work this is,” said Chance, who doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon, “because I care about people and want these people to have something.”

More than hundreds of coats were already given out to families in November through Hamilton County Kids’ Coats program, which works with Good Samaritan Network to supply additional families with coats through the remainder of this year, she said.

 “We need to support and help those who live in our county through this season,” she said.

Each year, she purchases food in advance, hoping that she’ll receive enough monetary donations to cover expenses. “We need money,” she has said. The food that must be purchased has grown to about $80,000 for the holidays. Chance is accepting donations of money and gift cards, to be able to buy meat and produce, at local groceries.

Good Samaritan annually provides holiday assistance to Hamilton County families in need. The nonprofit serves over 26,000 people, with distributions possible with the help of hundreds of private sponsors, including businesses, groups and private individuals.

“If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said.

While Chance doesn’t like to compete with other donation drives, she is hoping people will feel the generosity to donate. She said recipients are always very thankful.

She is optimistic, as she is every year, that the community will come through. “It seems like the right amount of money has come in every year.”

Chance said, “We can get it done. We’ve proved it for 42 years that we can do it.”

Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

Want TO HELP?

The Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County Thanksgiving Distribution Giveaway is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2003 E. Pleasant St., Noblesville.

The 42nd annual GSN Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, with a drive-thru meal only available at White River Christian Church, 1685 N. 10th St., Noblesville; at Sheridan Community Center, 300 E. Sixth St., Sheridan; at St. Louis deMontfort Catholic Church, 11441 Hague Road, Noblesville.

GSN will also provide meal deliveries for the elderly, disabled, or shut-ins who have signed up for a Thanksgiving Day meal delivery and/or Christmas Eve meal delivery, according to gnslive.org. Delivery is needs-based and an application does not guarantee delivery. Volunteers will deliver to their assigned households early in the day. Residents must be home.

GSN Christmas Distribution Giveaway is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 10 at the 4-H Fairgrounds.

Monetary donations: Money and gift cards, along with food and clothing and toy donations, may be dropped off year-round 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at Good Samaritan Network, 12933 Parkside Drive, Fishers, IN 46038, or mailed to Good Samaritan Network, P.O. Box 339, Noblesville, IN 46061.
In December: Food, new toys, new clothing, with a critical need for boys and girls clothing, socks and underwear for children ages 6 to 14, will be accepted from Dec. 5-10 at the 4-H Fairgrounds.
Volunteer: To volunteer at the Thanksgiving Day dinners and the December Christmas distribution giveaway, sign up for time slots online at gsnlive.org.
For more information: Call the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County at (317) 842-2603.