Hope likes to refer to itself as a surprising little town, and it often lives up to its reputation. One of the ways that Hope is surprising to those outside our community is the generosity displayed by area residents. That generosity was on full display during the holidays, where several agencies assisted those in need.

The Angel Tree is a fixture of holiday giving in town. This year, 68 local children received help with Christmas presents through the Angel Tree. Families in need registered for the Angel Tree through United Way of Bartholomew County. United Way then sent those children’s information to Hope Elementary, where area residents adopted the angels and bought presents for the children in need. The wrapped gifts were then dropped off at the Community Center of Hope and distributed accordingly.

In addition to the Angel Tree, the school also assisted five additional families who were not registered with United Way, but still in need.

Gifts aren’t the only expense during the holidays. Large meals are an overlooked expense that some people in our community have trouble meeting as well. The Hope Food Pantry distributed 80 Christmas dinners to Hope families in need, in addition to the typical monthly food insecurity that is served by the Food Bank.

All of the 65 residents at Miller’s Merry Manor had gifts for Christmas. Each resident was adopted by a community member or family. They bought gifts for the resident and brought them to Miller’s. The experience was meaningful for both the residents and those who adopted them.

The Hope Volunteer Fire Department coordinated with the Columbus Firemen's Cheer Fund, which also gathers and distributes gifts to families in need. While the majority of the Cheer Fund’s recipients are in Columbus, there were several families in Hope that received gifts through the Cheer Fund as well, and those efforts were led by HVFD staff.

The Student’s Fund of Hope helped several other agencies during the holidays. Their Facebook page was the place where Miller’s Merry Manor residents were adopted for their holiday program. They helped fulfill gifts for the Angel Tree and helped several other families in the area with more immediate needs as well.

Hucks Karing for Kids program raised $900 for children in need of gifts during the holidays as well. This is a longstanding program for the gas station during December, and they help to fill the gap for families that haven’t sought assistance elsewhere through other programs.

The Hope United Methodist Church provided a Blue Christmas service for area residents on December 24th. Some people struggle with depression and sadness around the Christmas season for various reasons, including the loss of loved ones. The service is an important outreach for those not in need of physical or monetary assistance, but guidance and emotional support during a very stressful and taxing time of year.

The Christmas Homes Tour is a popular event that requires massive decoration and planning on the part of those participating, and the event raises money for the Yellow Trail Museum. The event was a success again this year..

This is only a partial list of the outpouring of assistance and giving that occurred in our community during the last several weeks. This article only scratches the surface of this community’s generosity. All of the acts of giving listed above happen because people give of their time, effort and money.

Neighbors help neighbors. Countless acts of giving and assistance take place quietly, and calls no attention to itself. The Christmas of Yesteryear event cannot take place without hours of volunteer work by scores of community members.Thousands of cookies are baked and distributed around the community. Area nonprofits, churches and agencies see an increase in giving during the holidays. For a small community, for a rural community that is not wealthy, it amounts to a lot of a support and help.

All of that support and help come together to make a strong statement. This is a community that values each other, and fiercely wants to make sure that every individual within it has what they need to be happy and comfortable. Not every community has that feature as a part of its nature. It is rare, and it is one of the reasons why Hope is a surprising little town.