Several local charities received an early Christmas present Wednesday afternoon as Farmers Bank and Trust held its 14th-annual Holiday Charity Coffee.
There was plenty of seasonal cheer with refreshments and holiday harp music at the bank’s 10th and Harrision location. A large Christmas tree stood in the middle of the lobby and those representing the charities and other spectators crowded around it.
"These are the people who make a difference in the community," said Brian Harrison of Farmers Bank about the charities. "We have to remember why we’re here and that’s to give back."
Then, the names of this year’s recipients from those registered were drawn at random out of a Santa hat. There are various levels of awards with the top six receiving between $500 and $200 each. Next, 10 more received $100 and the remainder received $50. Those getting $100 or $50 also got a $50 match from a bank stockholder.
The top six winners were: The Barton County Food Bank with $500; Juvenile Services with $400; Central Kansas Court Appointed Special Advocates with $300; and the Great Bend Police Department DARE program, Elder Care Inc. and United Way of Barton County, each with $200.
"The purpose is to thank area charities for their hard work," said Karesa Harrison, Farmers vice president. It also helps them with their expenses for the upcoming year.
"Our goal is to give away around $5,000 each year," to the 30-some charities that register, Karesa Harrison said. Since the program’s inception in 1996, Farmers has given away about $60,000.
"Everybody leaves a winner," she said. To qualify, a group must be an official charity and provide essential services.
The event has become a local holiday tradition. "It’s a time to pause and celebrate their success have a little holiday spirit," Karesa Harrison said.