FISHERS — Nearly three dozen families in Hamilton County will have Christmas presents under their trees thanks to the hours of shopping and gift-wrapping by local volunteers.
It was quite the sight to see at Wasson Nursery in Fishers where more than 300 people dedicated their Saturday morning to buying gifts and wrapping presents for families in need.
"Today, we have started at 6 o'clock this morning with a specific shopping list for about 248 people and 38 families," Tom Flanagan said.
It's all put on by the Secret Families Christmas Charity, which started in 2004 in Muncie after a husband and wife agreed to buy gifts for a struggling family instead of each other.
"My girls and I got up at 5 o'clock and went to the Meijer in Noblesville and started shopping around six and we shopped for a few families and then we came here and started wrapping for families, too," Katie Turean said.
Fifteen years later, the charity delivers Christmas to almost 400 families in Delaware County and six other counties in Central Indiana.
The organization recently expanded to Hamilton County where they say some may believe there isn't a need.
"The misconception I think we deal with is if you live in Hamilton County, you are affluent. That is assuredly not the case. The schools can tell you it's a growing issue and it will continue to grow," Flanagan said.
According to the charity, there are 12,000 people living below the poverty line in Hamilton County and more than 10,000 children receiving free or reduced lunch at school. The charity takes referrals from local schools and spends about $550 per family.
"There are lots of people that move here for good schools and safe communities for their kids. Even though it might be harder to pay for everything. They still have needs that aren't met. It's nice to give back to those families," Turean said.
After wrapping the presents, the volunteers loaded up vans and set out to deliver the presents. They also provided real decorated Christmas trees to families who did not have a tree.
"Part of our goal as a family business is to get back to the community," Bob Wasson, owner of Wasson Nursery, said. "We were approached with this opportunity three years ago when we opened. It's just fun it's fun to see all the volunteers."
The charity estimates it spent $19,000 Saturday, and it even bought Christmas trees to give to families who didn't have one.
"This is our Christmas. The pleasure is in watching these families receive these groups. The delivery is where the emotion happens. We take our secret name seriously. We will not be putting our families in the position of being embarrassed or judged," Flanagan said.
This one-day event takes weeks of planning, fundraising and support from the community to show every family in need that they are loved this holiday season.