By Maria Cook
For the 39th year, Carmel Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 185 is preparing food baskets for needy families in Hamilton County. The lodge has partnered with Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County and local organizations, such as Kroger and the Clay Township Trustee’s office, to prepare the baskets.
Tonya Tilson, executive director of the FOP Foundation, said the goal is to help 500 Hamilton County families at Thanksgiving and another 500 at Christmas — and to try raise more money than in 2018.
“Last year, we made a little over $54,000. This year, we’re a little behind. We’re around $40,000,” Tilson said. “We’re trying to raise more, but if we can at least get to the same level as last year, obviously that’s the goal.”
Families in need must apply to be eligible for a food basket, either on the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County’s website, in person, or by phone. Those wishing to donate to FOP Lodge 185 can do so online at carmelfop.com/fundraising. Those wanting to volunteer with the lodge may help pack food baskets Dec. 8. The event is open to the public and starts at 8 a.m. at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds’ Llama Barn.
Tilson said hunger is a problem in Hamilton County that is often overlooked, and that the need is particularly great in families with children who are part of free school lunch programs because they may miss meals during holiday break.
“The need is here, and that’s what people don’t understand,” Tilson said. “It is here in Hamilton County and people just don’t think about it. They think, ‘Oh, it’s Carmel, they don’t need money.’ But we do have a lot of people who require assistance at the holidays, and that’s why we do this.”