DAVIS LAMM ’20 | STAFF WRITER • Around the year 300, Saint Nicholas saved three women from prostitution when he furtively provided their dowry after their father went bankrupt. The trend has continued through the ages to now, when Christmas is the year’s pinnacle of charity and gift giving.
In Crawfordsville, the effort to make Christmas merry for the needy is more organized than a Saint throwing gold through a window. The flagship Christmas giving program, called REINdear, allows local businesses and residents to fund gifts for over 1,200 children in Montgomery County every year.
Families apply for the program through Montgomery County’s Youth Service Bureau (MCYSB). Then, wish lists containing the children’s two wants and two needs are distributed to donors who buy the gifts for MCYSB to deliver. Wabash College and four fraternities have sponsored over 50 children this year.
Director of Gift Planning David Troutman is the liaison between Wabash and MCYSB. He says, “They send us names and pertinent information about the children like their favorite color, shoe size, and other interests. The goal is to brighten Christmas for kids who come from difficult situations. Their families don’t have the resources, so REINdear fills the void.”
Every year, Wabash proves that its resolute chivalry is not limited to campus. Troutman says, “MCYSB gives us about 50 names. We have some regular folks on the faculty who step up to the plate every year and are eager to participate. Families of our faculty get their kids to participate.” Sponsoring a child through the program costs around $50, and there’s still time for clubs and fraternities to get involved.
REINdear is part of a long menu of services provided by MCYSB. It is funded by community members ranging from Nucor (the nation’s largest steel company) to local
auto body shops. Troutman says, “MCYSB has been a program in Montgomery county for several decades. They exist to prevent child delinquency.” It provides services like court appointed special advocates for victims of abuse, guidance programs for teen girls in the county, mentoring programs, and an alternative school where expelled students have a second chance to graduate high school. These services are not just government funded handouts, they are programs that have earned investment from community members and businesses alike.
While REINdear is the largest Christmas charity project in which Wabash participates, Troutman emphasized that the Global Health Initiative’s Peru Christmas Smiles campaign is another worthy cause. Part of an up and coming venture, it is still establishing brand recognition around campus. Using donations from Wabash, the Global Health Initiative sponsors dentists and sends dental supplies for Peruvians in need.
We cannot ignore the town through which we will drive once we dig out from under mounds of tests and word counts. Too easily, the weight of grades makes us forget our obligation to help people around us, which is the gentlemanly thing to do. Our college is not physically isolated from Crawfordsville, and thanks to the philanthropists among us, the unquestioned support students enjoy can be enjoyed by local residents. No wonder Saint Nick and Wally prefer the same colors.