Christmas came a little early for some of the area's helping organizations on Wednesday morning a the Farmers Bank and Trust. Representatives, board members and volunteers from over 30 charitable non-profits attended the bank’s 16th Annual Holiday Charity Recognition Coffee.
Bank president Gene Dikeman welcomed them, The purpose, to show appreciation for all the work the organizations do for the community throughout the year. A visit from the Great Bend High School Madrigals Pop Singers performing three Christmas songs, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” “Pinecones and Holly Berries,”and “Carol of the Bells” added a festive atmosphere to the much anticipated event.
Santa arrived to assist Vice President Karesa Harrison draw names for winners of several checks. An award of $500 went to the Boy Scouts; $400 to Kans for Kids; $300 for Habitat for Humanity; $200 for Juvenial Services Teen Court; $200 for the Dominican Sisters; and $200 for DARE Great Bend Police Department. Each organization was given a brief moment to talk about their organizations.
Leroy Weathers with the Boy Scouts spoke of continuing to serve area youth and continue to promote good religious and community values. Duane Reif with Kans for Kids said the organization is currently helping two boys with their battle with cancer, and thanked the community for their help. Sister Judith Lindell also thanked the community and said that every dollar that is donated to Habitat is used several times over, as those who are helped pay back the money, it goes back into more Habitat homes. CynDee Christiansen with Juvenial Services Teen Court said the program will continue to offer first time misdemeanor teen offenders an opportunity to be judged by their peers and keep their record clean. Teresita Huse with the Dominican Sisters thanked the community for their help in making the recent bazarr a success and added with the money they would continue to assist Emergency Aid, the Food Bank and the Lifegiving Center. Officer Jefferson Davis spoke of the many recent first semester graduates from the DARE program, and said the new curriculum also incorporates life skills including communication, confidence and bullying avoidance. He also praised the Americas Promise program in which high school students mentor tird and fourth grade students.
Ten organizations were awarded gifts of $100. They include Prodigal Ministries, Roots and Wings, St. Francis Academy, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Housing Opportunities, the Family Crisis Center, the Food Bank, Elder Care, Meals on Wheels and Sunflower Diversified Services. The rest of the organizations each were given a check for $50. A Farmers Bank stockholder, Yvonne Robbins, once again matched each of the $100 and $50 gifts, said Harrison.
The final giveaway was for the non-profit with the highest number of participants at the event. As Dikeman continued to increase the count, it became clear it was a race between the Salvation Army and St. Francis Community Services. In the end, St. Francis won with 21 to the Salvation Army’s 18. They were awarded a $250 dollar check.