MORRIS – Just after 10 a.m. on Nov. 3, Christy Johnson pulled up a cart and walked into 530 Bedford Road in Morris. Just 30 minutes before, it was standing room only for the We Care of Grundy County “A Merry Little Christmas Sale.” Christmas decoration donations flew off of the tables and trees and, within one hour, most items were sold and on the way out.
“I have benefited from We Care of Grundy County before. I have gotten help from the food pantry and clothing when we needed help. It’s huge when you need help and they are always so kind here,” Johnson said. “Today I wanted to come help and give back with a little of my shopping.”
This first of a kind sale for We Care of Grundy County was the brainstorm of board member Jo Christensen.
“I was visiting a friend in Bloomington and she was dropping off some of her old Christmas decorations for a fundraiser. We were talking about it and when I came back I was talking to Eric and said I have an idea,” Christensen said.
We Care of Grundy County Executive Director Eric Fisher said he had no idea or expectation of what a fundraiser of this sort would bring, but at the end of the day, $800 was made to use toward programs within the non-profit organization which serves Grundy County.
“Christmas is kind of our season. It made sense to have a Christmas event to kick off the holiday. We have families signing up to for Christmas assistance and donors signing up as well as volunteers to ring the bells,” Fisher said.
Christensen said she took this idea to Facebook and through word of mouth during Christmas of 2017. She said she told people as they put away their holiday items to think about what they wanted to keep and donate. She said she was retired and wanted to pare down the décor, also, her house had once been on the Home for the Christmas House Walk, so she had many decorations when she went over the top for that fundraiser.
“We are all downsizing and ready to get rid of some of our beautiful things. We are retiring and don’t want to put it all out anymore,” Christensen said.
Over 30 people donated Christmas themed items from ornaments to dishes, snowman and Santa statues, garland, Christmas town pieces, wrapping paper, greenery and much more. Christensen said there were former and current downtown businesses who also donated past inventory. Christmas music played throughout the building as shoppers picked up new finds to decorate.
“We are big Christmas people. My mom and dad had the Christmas village people and my mom passed two years ago and wanted me to have it all. We have added to the collection,” Sara Rodgers said.
Whatever the reason, people grabbed items in order to decorate their home and help a cause they know helps others.
“We have to give back to our community and give back to our kids,” Rodgers said.
We Care of Grundy County offers help to those in the country in a variety of ways. Fisher said within the past 365 days, the organization has helped 4,732 people with the food pantry; 1,065 people with clothing; 126 with rent or mortgage assistance; 88 people with utility bill payments; 297 children for back to school supplies and in Christmas 2017, helped 752 people, which included 369 children. Through the Pathway of Hope program which aims to help people out of continuous poverty, 161 people went through the program.
All of the funds raised will be split between the programs. Fisher said there are so many people in the county who find themselves in a dire situation due to illness, injury, death of a spouse and other life altering events.
“You name it, so many things happen to a person or family to put them in a crisis and sometimes they need help. Nobody is immune to it,” Fisher said.