Good Samaritan Network Is Ready to Help Around the Holidays
Writer / Renee Larr
For 41 years, Good Samaritan Network (GSN) has helped Hamilton County residents in need of food, clothing and holiday gifts. GSN is a collaborative network of nonprofits in Hamilton County providing direct and indirect services. Each year GSN offers a holiday assistance program during Thanksgiving and Christmas reaching more than 46,000 people.
GSN Founder and Executive Director Nancy Chance started the organization in an attempt to make the nonprofit process more effective for donors and recipients. The program now includes three free clinics and 45 food pantries.
Chance started the program in 1980, and GSN was formally founded in 1995 after leaders combined a group of services and organizations.
“We have many services including financial assistance, energy assistance, rehab equipment, job fairs and food insecurities,” Chance says. “Our signature program is the holiday assistance program that we have led for the last 41 years. We work with various police, fire, and sheriff’s departments along with the schools to make sure every single child is taken care of during the holiday season.”
GSN distributed Thanksgiving food baskets on November 20 at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville. The food is provided through donations by various churches and organizations. GSN leaders also provided Thanksgiving drive-through meals on November 25 for the elderly and disabled.
Thanksgiving drive-through meals are picked up at White River Christian Church in Noblesville, Sheridan Community Center, and St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church in Fishers.
“We receive a lot of Thanksgiving baskets from our churches in the organization because it seems like their parishioners love to help with those,” Chance says. “They deliver directly to our families, which is a great help.”
The season of giving continues with Share Day on December 2 at the fairgrounds Llama Barn, providing adults and families with clothing as well as household items such as pots, pans and furniture. Chance says she had to divide distribution into three weeks to impact families more efficiently.
“Share Day goes by quickly and we give away a huge amount of items,” she says. “We start preparing the week before, and once Share Day is over we turn around and flip the room, getting it ready for Christmas Distribution on December 11.”
On December 11 the GSN team distributes toys, children’s clothing and food. Each family is escorted through a room by volunteers who help load carts, choose items and load cars. Volunteers also make sure families receive food at the end of the process. Private sponsors can sign up to assist families directly.
“It’s a great help for the families to be supported by our volunteers throughout the entire process,” Chance says. “At the end of that day, we flip again and get ready for the next event.”
Christmas Eve food deliveries follow on December 24 for housebound, disabled and elderly individuals. Chance utilizes White River Christian Church to store the frozen meals until distribution day.
“We start preparing and freezing those meals the Wednesday before our Thanksgiving dinner,” Chance says. “We start mapping out and coordinating our deliveries to pre-selected individuals and families. Some of these people have mental disabilities, some are shut-ins, and some are people who may have just gotten home from the hospital or just had surgery. We try to encompass all types of people to ensure everyone gets the assistance they need.”
Chance says this year there will be no sit-down meals served due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She says volunteers are always needed and can sign up through the GSN website. The organization always needs donations of clothing and toys for children. Donations can be dropped off at GSN’s headquarters or at the Llama Barn December 6 through 11.
“Volunteers and community support play a crucial role in what we do here,” Chance says. “We log over 29,000 hours each year. We can’t do what we do without our volunteers. I work with Toys for Tots every year. This year I’m very concerned about having enough toys so we’re asking for donations now more than ever.”
Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, Inc. is located at 12933 Parkside Drive in Fishers. For more information, call 317-842-2603 or visit gsnlive.org.