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'Granny' takes care of family, neighborhood despite hardships of her own

Neighbors call Donna Little "an inspiration" and say she's "pretty much good as gold."

INDIANAPOLIS — Most people have had a "Granny" in their lives — someone who finds joy in the kitchen and in the flower garden.

"It just gives me a lot of joy and happiness to see how things are growing," said Donna Little.  

On a street on the near east side of Indianapolis, there is a Granny that everyone knows.

"Granny? She's a trooper. We all just call her 'Granny' because she's Granny," said neighbor Diana Adams. "Since I got my lung cancer, she's really been there for me. I really appreciate it. She would help anybody. Give the shirt off her back to anybody. I love her to death."

Another neighbor, Buddy Banks, agrees.

"She's been a whole inspiration to some of us younger folk," Banks said. "We see her on the porch, so we know everything's OK then. She's pretty much good as gold."

They love Granny because she cares for other people despite the many hardships she has faced. Little has lost a husband, brother and sister. Her son was murdered, and the tragedies kept happening.

"Two of my granddaughters died. One of them from a drug overdose, one of them from a massive heart attack," Little said.

Granny stepped into the gap and raised three great-granddaughters by herself.

Credit: WTHR

"I love them. They're my heart. I think that's what's had me going all these years," Little said.

The pandemic has been rough on Little. The 74-year-old caught COVID twice, and she has been cooped up in the house a lot. Granny no longer can mow yards or babysit to supplement her fixed income.

"I have no means of making the money I used to make," Little said. "After I pay everything, on my bills and stuff, I might have $20 left on my check."

Given her financial challenges, this is an important day for Granny. Food is coming from Shepherd Community Center.

"Every Wednesday, they bring me eggs, milk, meats. They bring me all the foods," said Little.

"We've been able to take food to her house," said Jay Height, executive director at Shepherd Community Center. "What a blessing it is, because we take her double and she ends up giving it away and making meals for so many on her block." 

Credit: WTHR

Granny is one of 160 people receiving food deliveries from Shepherd and Gleaners Food Bank every week.

"In partnering with Gleaners, we have uncovered the hidden hungry, those who've been out there before COVID, and the numbers impacted by the pandemic has dropped. But it opened the doors for us to find others who had needs, so we are trying to meet those needs," Height said.  

"We don't necessarily need more money or programs," Height continued. "We need more relationships. We need more folks like Donna who knows everyone on her block. She can tell you who lives here, who's sick and who has kids, and she's helping care for them. She epitomized what we've tried to embrace. Our goal is to re-neighbor the hood, let folks know that they know they have a face and a name."

But Granny said the Shepherd Community Center is taking care of her.

"Shepherd Community just practically saved me," Little said. "They gave me air conditioners for the summertime. In the wintertime, they bring warm blankets. They help me at Christmastime. They're my family. If it wasn't for Shepherd, I don't know if I could make it or not."

"She has a lot of reasons to feel sorry for herself," Height said. "Life has been incredibly tough, but she sees the blessings and she is making those connections to be a blessing to others."

Thank goodness there are Grannys in Indianapolis and organizations that take care of them.

"Thank God for Shepherd," Little said.

"She is a beautiful blessing on what it is to be a neighbor," Height said.

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