News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 21, 2013

Wish List book can make a difference in Wabash Valley

Dianne Frances D. Powell
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Some gifts can make a difference in people’s lives.

That’s the reason for the 2013 Holiday Wish List, a guide to charitable giving put out by the Wabash Valley Community Foundation.

It lists the needs of 53 local nonprofit organizations in Clay, Sullivan and Vigo counties, and it contains more than 80 separate wishes.

Beth Tevlin, the foundation’s executive director, said the wish list — in a section inserted into today’s Tribune-Star — provides loved ones and friends with gift ideas.

“A small contribution can make a big difference in the life of nonproft organizations,” Tevlin said.

This year, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation will match the first $12,000 of donations made through the 2013 Holiday Wish List, now in its second year. The wish list also includes information on how to fulfill an organization’s wish.

According to the wish list, the foundation will match “dollar for dollar up to $12,000 … $3,000 in both Clay and Sullivan counties and $6,000 in Vigo County.

“It’s just a great way for somebody to make a $25 gift have a $50 impact,” Tevlin said.

The 2013 Holiday Wish List also gives an agency a chance to highlight what a certain gift (either by dollar amount or in items) can mean to it and the people it serves, she said.

The list also includes a brief description of what each charity does.

For example:

“The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. A gift of $25-$50 will provide infant care supplies and up to 10 warm, cozy blankets that will protect families from the cold and help them sleep comfortably in our shelters.”

Nikki Wessley, executive director of the Wabash Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, said that community support, through organizations such as the Wabash Valley Community Foundation, is important to the organization’s work.

“It helps us get the resources so we can be there for the community when the Red Cross is needed,” she said. “We don’t function without the support of our community.”

Real Impact

In addition to the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities in Terre Haute, The Salvation Army and Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum were among the charities that also participated last year.

John Etling, director of Catholic Charities in Terre Haute, said participating in last year’s Holiday Wish List was beneficial to it in multiple ways, including being able to continue to serve meals during the holiday season, getting resources that allowed the organization to provide lodging to people (at Bethany House) and reaching an additional donor base connected through the Community Foundation.

But is also helped spread the word about Catholic Charities.

“It’s just as important to get the awareness out in the community that we’re here and we’re available to help,” Jennifer Buell, director of development, said.

Donations from last year’s wish list also made a difference for Sullivan County Historical Society and Museum, a nonprofit that works to preserve the history of Sullivan County.

Rose Gates, historical society secretary, said the organization received money and office supplies. Some donations were designated for specific purposes such as buying a new camera, more office supplies or to take out an ad in the newspaper.

Undesignated donations also made a difference, in a visible way. Some were used for maintenance of the building housing the historical society and museum.

More specifically, it was used for “tuck pointing the front upper half of the building,” Gates said.

There were rows of bricks “sitting there with nothing to hold them, she said. “They were taking them out piece by piece [and putting them back in] like a puzzle.”  

The repairs were important, because the building houses “hundreds, if not thousands” of artifacts and files telling the story of Sullivan County’s history.

Artifacts include a saddle from the Civil War, a quilt with names of men and women who fought in World War II and a  flag that flew in Carlisle during the Civil War.

So, saving the building is important — and the donations were certainly “put to good use,” Gates said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or