The cars started lining up in the early afternoon at Riverview Park in Lake Station. While it would not start for a few more hours, residents were eagerly anticipating the turkey boxes and supplies that would afford them Thanksgiving dinner celebrations.
Sporting a red fox tail fur hat willed to him by a former community civic volunteer and supporter, Mayor Carroll personally greeted each resident and helped direct them as they arrived. Three weeks prior he had suffered a heart attack. This was his first public appearance since. He, nor the volunteers in attendance were letting the frigid temperatures stop them. With smiles and well wishes aplenty, cars were loaded with donations.
“This is all about community. When you know there is a person who has needs and you can help, that is what puts a smile on your face. It’s about helping those who truly need help,” said Mayor Carroll.
Pam Shaffner, event organizer, used to help with a prior similar event in another community. When her son-in-law Adrian came to her with the idea to bring this event to the Lake Station community, she flew with the idea. In collaboration with Mayor Caroll and Laurie Haussman who is President of the Lake Station Lions Club, the event quickly became a success. Starting with 50 residents in its first year, the program has grown to assist 115 residents today in its fifth year.
“I want everyone to know what a loving, giving, community this is. Without the community we wouldn’t be here,” said Shaffner.
“We realized there was a need lacking in our community,” said Mayor Carroll.
“With the help of Lions Club, FIGHT, and now the schools, we were able to get together and help families that need the help. It is not about what we are doing, it is how it affects families. This is about providing to those who need assistance in our community. In this economy people need help and I am glad that they aren’t afraid to ask for help. There is nothing wrong with that. That is why we are here. That is why we do what we do.”
Residents participating registered online and went through a rigorous screening process. Through monetary donations, collection boxes at businesses, and elementary school collections, residents in need receive an entire Thanksgiving dinner down to the tin pan needed to bake the turkey.
“We receive handwritten letters from children, adults, and senior citizens expressing appreciation and sentiments that they could not celebrate without us, without this,” said Jack Daniels, Director of Communications for Lake Station.
“Those personal moments make it worth it. We could easily tell people to go to larger food banks where thousands go for their turkeys, but this is our community. We want to do something for our community.”
“We raise money for this throughout the year. It is just wonderful,” said Haussman. “ This is a small town. This is community.”
Lake Station community members requesting more information or in need may contact the Mayor’s office for information on future events at https://www.lakestation-in.gov/mayorsoffice