United Christmas Service seeks volunteers, donations

A CNO Financial employee wraps a gift for a United Christmas Service family.

More than 100 local families in need this Christmas may not get help in time for the holidays.

Many of us are getting into the holiday spirit, thinking of the perfect gift to get for loved ones. But the reality is, many Hoosier families may go without this year, because the volunteers and money isn't there for the United Christmas Service.

Christine Fowler and her co-workers at CNO Financial put the finishing touches on gifts they have purchased for a single mom and her five children Wednesday afternoon.

"Somebody out there cares, somebody does remember," Fowler said.

The family is one of 40 the Carmel company provides for through the United Christmas Service.

"So much of this experience is you get back everything you put into it and more," said Media Oakes.

This year, the United Christmas Service has 8,600 families in central Indiana in need of assistance. Some just need a little help in the form of a gift voucher good for clothing, food and toys. Others have no means of providing any kind of Christmas for their family.

"We are still seeing a lot of people who are struggling to make ends meet," said Mary Jones, United Christmas Service.

Those families are paired up with volunteers who will shop for and wrap gifts, then deliver them in time for the holidays - if there are enough volunteers to go around.

"Last year, we had almost 2,000 families that we couldn't help," Jones said.

This year, there are still 150 families who are not yet matched up with a volunteer.

As for Fowler, she couldn't imagine not helping a family in need.

"Over the years, we have just met some wonderful families and it just means a lot," she said.

"Any one of our employees that participates in this program will tell you they get way more out of giving these gifts than they do out of anything they receive," said Oakes.

Volunteers can still register to help through December 14. United Christmas Service also needs to raise $800,000 in order to provide for the families. They are a little over halfway to that goal.

United Christmas Service information