– Darrels Spellls, Resident Press Community Reporter
As Christmas rapidly approaches I want to take this opportunity to share with you the spirit of a town I’m proud to work in. When Hackett Helping Hands was formed three years ago, it was formed with one goal and that was to help kids and families in our area during Christmas. We set in motion different avenues of the program. Toy and Food donations at Hackett Dollar General, donation jars at local businesses, and online donations. The response was overwhelming. Our meeting room in city hall quickly transformed into Santa’s workshop with toys and food filling our tables from corner to corner. The first year we raised over $2,000 and helped 75 families. The second year over $3,000 was raised and over 100 families helped. With eight days left in in this year’s campaign we’re already over $4,000. $9,000 in three years is pretty impressive, but that’s not all. Last spring, we partnered with KTCS to help with Make a wish foundation. What did Hackett do? They just raised $3,000 in two hours. That’s right. Two hours.
What makes Hackett different than any other small town? It’s the people. These donations came from hard working people. Many who are struggling to put food on their own table, but when they see someone struggling they lift them up. Many of the families who we come into contact with on a daily basis, we know this is possibly the only Christmas gifts and food the will have. It makes us work harder. We are blessed with people like Betty Snyder who collect toys and clothing year-round for our program. People like Dane and Bettye Goodwin who have donated generously since year one. They don’t donate for recognition, they donate to help.
The campaign is only as good as it’s volunteers. Jennifer Costa and Kelly Lane bounce from collecting water bills one moment to sacking groceries the next. They also do a tremendous job of sorting and organizing. They are the method to the madness. When it comes to a strong back to help carry in the groceries, Chuck Fortson steps up. When it comes time to deliver the items or help carry the kids shopping, we don’t have to look farther than our own reserve officers and the Sebastian County Sheriff’s office to lend a hand. We also work closely with the Hackett School District to identify kids in need as well as working with the local churches. Is it a well-oiled machine? Far from it. We adapt each year and try to figure out what works well and what doesn’t. There’s a lot of work that goes into the campaign behind the scenes, but the reward of seeing a child’s face with a new bicycle, or the look on a motorist when you give them a $100 gift card to help with Christmas shopping makes it all worthwhile. Merry Christmas!
*The Hackett Helping Hands campaign runs until December15, 2017. Monetary, food, and toy donations may be made at Hackett City Hall. Money may also be donated at Hugs and biscuits and Main Street Café. Food and toy donations may also be made at Dollar General in Hackett.