By Betsy Reason
When Nancy Chances sees a need, she finds a way to fulfill that need.
And while she’s always helping others, she never asks to be recognized. But rather she asks for donations of food, clothing and money, to help those less fortunate.
She works her magic through Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, an organization that she founded and is in its 41st year.
Originally known simply as Good Samaritan, the organization provides food and health care for thousands of county residents every year, networking with county agencies, food pantries, free clinics, churches and area hospitals. It also provides toys and clothing. Especially during the holidays.
She always accepts donations of money and gift cards, to be able to buy meat and produce, at local grocery stores.
Chance said the Christmas Assistance Distribution is in most need for donations right now for “new clothing and toys for kids 5 to 13 years for both boys and girls and, as always, gifts for teens, both boys and girls.”
Thanksgiving Assistance Distribution, which she calls her “Thanksgiving Baskets.” Distribution is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville.
Chance also organizes the annual Thanksgiving Day Free Meal from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 25 at White River Christian Church in Noblesville, Sheridan Community Center and St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers. This year, there is drive-thru meal pickup only, no sit-down meals. There will be limited shut-in deliveries with signup required.
In years past (except for 2020), Good Samaritan delivered 4,800 hot meals and prepared another 1,500 to 1,800 sit-down meals at the three locations.
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 dinners cost more than $20,000, which is $3.28 per meal, “made possible by donations through the generosity of the community,” Chance said.
Chance is optimistic, as she is every year, which the community will come through. “It seems like the right amount of money has come in every year,” she said.
Chance is also coordinating Good Samaritan’s annual Christmas Assistance Distribution.
This year, Chance said, the Christmas Assistance Distribution will take place over a three-week period, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3, Dec. 6-11 and Dec. 13-15, in the Llama Barn at the 4-H Fairgrounds. The date of the biggest event is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 11 for the toys, clothing and food, she said.
Eagle Scout Grant Irvin will work with Chance as a project coordinator for the Christmas Assistance Distribution and tent setup.
“We are coordinating with (Hamilton County) Emergency Management to get the tents to be able to register the clients and put new clients in the database as entry starts,” Chance said. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) ham radio group is also supporting GSN through the mapping and deliveries of food to the shut-in clients, she said.
There is also GSN Share Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 2 with gently-used household and holiday items, clothing, baby items, large toys and more given away, with no application required.
Recipients of both giveaways have been prequalified.
Good Samaritan annually provides holiday assistance to Hamilton County families in need. “We are looking at 23,000 people to serve for the Holiday Basket and Thanksgiving Day Dinner.
More than 1,500 coats each year are given out to families in November through Hamilton County Kids’ Coats program, which works with Good Samaritan Network to supply additional families with coats throughout the remainder of the year. Chance said they collect coats year-round. “We need them this year for sure,” she said.
While Chance doesn’t like to compete with other donation drives, she hopes that people will feel the generosity to donate. She has said that recipients are always very grateful.
Her current need is greatest for the December distribution.
Good Samaritan also usually organizes Christmas Eve meals on Dec. 24 for shut-ins who have signed up by Dec. 5.
The Good Samaritan Network’s holiday-assistance program will also benefit from a fundraising gala, the seventh Festival of Trees, which is after the Thanksgiving Distribution tonight at Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel in Carmel. The event, this year sponsored by Spencer Farm and Spencer Farm Winery, features an auction of exclusively custom-designed, themed Christmas trees, wreaths and table centerpieces, with delivery the following week. For those who do not attend, online bidding is available at www.gsnlive.org. Other sponsors are Gaylor Electric and Chuck Goodrich, TMB Construction Management, Kinsey’s Floor Covering, Chapman Electric Supply Inc., Breathe Easy Hamilton County, Mustard Seed Gardens, Gordon Marketing, BMO Harris Bank, Boomerang Development, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. and Hamilton County Commissioners Christine Altman and Mark Heirbrandt.
Chance is ready for tonight’s Festival of Trees, which has more than 200 reservations. She hopes to make up for lost 2020 donations.
“In 2019, we made $75,000,” Chance said. “We lost our proceeds last year, because we couldn’t have the event.”
Good Samaritan Network also offers a Hamilton County Energy Assistance Program, to provide one-time assistance, to be paid directly to the heating vendor, for low-income households to maintain utility services during the winter heating season, Nov. 1 through May 15. Eligibility is based on household size and gross annual income of every household member age 18 or older. Chance said there are “huge increases in need and number we are serving.”
Chance has said, “It’s important for the information to get to Hamilton County families and individuals for the additional support this winter.”
Chance has unselfishly worked to help those Chance has unselfishly worked to help those less fortunate since she was a young girl.
At the age of 4, the former Nancy Mason was moved by the needs of others and wanted to share what she had because it was the right thing to do.
She credited God for expanding her passion and the need to reach out to help people who were hurting and experiencing life crises.
As an adult, she co-founded Habitat for Humanity of Hamilton County affiliate (and earned Habitat’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018) and Noblesville Main Street. She was a director of Hamilton County Red Cross and area coordinator of the Blood Bank, her day job as a laboratory medical technologist.
Since she founded Good Samaritan, while working from home, she has served our community well … for more than 40 years.
-Contact Betsy Reason at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want TO GO?
What: Thanksgiving Day Free Meal.
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Where: White River Christian Church, 1685 N. 10th St., Noblesville; Sheridan Community Center, 300 East Sixth St., Sheridan; and St. Louis de Montfort, 1441 Hague Road, Fishers.
Good to know: Drive-thru pickup only, no sit-down meals. Limited shut-in deliveries (signup required).
Info/volunteer signups: https://www.gsnlive.org, 317-842-2603.
Want TO HELP?
What: Donation drive for Christmas Assistance Distribution.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 3, Dec. 6-11 and Dec. 13-15. The date of the biggest event is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 11 for the toys, clothing and food.
Where: Llama Barn at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2003 E. Pleasant St., Noblesville.
Info: https://www.gsnlive.org, 317-842-2603.