A spark of hope: The Shamrock Shop

You may be familiar with Community Fund Grants, but if not, here is a quick overview.

Community Fund Grants are awarded based on a competitive grant application process. Nonprofit organizations serving Kosciusko County can apply in seven areas of interest: arts and culture, human services, civic projects, recreation, environment, health, and education. Of those that apply, a handful are selected to receive funding.

Harrison Elementary was one of 2022’s grant recipients. Their proposal was prompted by Ashlie Williams, who has children attending the school. “During a class project, my son, Cooper, wrote that his wish for a friend was that his family would be able to buy things they need,” Ashlie said. Cooper was very unsettled that some of his friends lacked necessities like shoes that fit and clean clothes.

Left to right: Cooper Williams, Ashlie Williams, Kelsie Herman (Harrison third-grade teacher) Matt Deeds (Harrison principal)

Ashlie spoke with Cooper’s teacher and principal and realized there were ongoing needs for toiletries, clothes and shoes. Although Harrison’s teachers were supporting their students as best they could, the need was too great for them to fully meet.

Shortly after, an extra conference room was transformed into the Shamrock Shop. The room is filled with toiletries of all kinds, clothing, socks, shoes, stuffed animals and more. As needs surface, more items are added. “Teachers take their students to the shop when they notice a need,” Ashlie said. Ashlie herself volunteers to help run the shop and organize supplies alongside Kelsie Herman, a third-grade teacher at the school.

“My hope is that the Shamrock Shop bridges the gap some Harrison families are feeling – that they would feel supported by their community and their children would be able to focus on school,” Ashlie added.

So far, the shop has provided Harrison students with 102 items of clothing, 125 pairs of socks and underwear, 12 pairs of shoes, 80 toiletries and seven backpacks, among other items. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

While slipping on a new pair of shoes that were actually his size, one fourth-grader said, “My toes are flat! These shoes feel so good!”

A third-grader, after she selected a stuffed teddy bear, said, “My mom threw away all of my stuffed animals – I love this one!”

After choosing a new and much-needed shirt, one second-grader exclaimed, “Wait – I get to keep this?”

The Community Foundation’s grant will enable Harrison Elementary to keep the Shamrock Shop fully stocked and even expand the type of items it offers – from backpacks and shirts to cleats and towels.

Like Harrison Elementary, many local organizations received and were impacted by Community Fund grants: American Red Cross – Northeast Indiana; Baker Youth Club; Brightpoint; Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana; Gateway Education Center; Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana; Harrison Elementary School; The Honeywell Foundation, Inc.; Junior Achievement serving Warsaw and Tippecanoe Valley; Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc.; Kosciusko County Historical Society; Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department; Lakeland Youth Center; McMillen Center for Health Education, Inc.; Operation Read; Ronald McDonald House Charities of NE IN; Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center; Town of Pierceton; and the Town of Winona Lake.

For more information about grants available through the Community Foundation, visit kcfoundation.org/grants or call 574-267-1901.