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A Wheeler Mission’s Thanksgiving
Aquoia Johnson
Friday, November 08, 2019

    Wheeler Mission is a Christian social service organization whose goal is to overcome homelessness, poverty and addiction in Indiana. They offer services such as addiction recovery, a 30-day program for the homeless and residential programs for both men and women, and have nine active locations located in Indiana. There are many volunteering opportunities available, and Wheelers Mission is always open to accepting new volunteers.

    “My favorite part of my job is connecting volunteers with big hearts with guests with big needs. I love seeing the transformation on both sides,” Volunteer Engagement Manager Tammy Caldwell said.

    Caldwell has worked with Wheeler Mission for two and a half years and worked as the Volunteer Engagement Manager for one and a half years. Her job is to recruit volunteers and guide them during their training and volunteering experience. 

    “I train and equip volunteers for the roles they are assigned. I schedule individuals and groups,” Caldwell said. “I teach volunteer classes, give facility tours, staff volunteer fairs/events, etc. I am the gatekeeper between volunteer requests and staff needs.”

    For Thanksgiving, Wheeler Mission needed 29 volunteers for lunch in the Indianapolis facility, and 32 volunteers for dinner in the other three locations that provide meals. All of their positions are currently filled, but there are other ways to give back for Thanksgiving.

    “Wheeler Mission over the years has used a lot of special events in order to really engage with the community,” Director of Marketing Brian Crispin said. “[The Drumstick Dash] is one of the biggest events in the state, and one of the biggest events of its kind in the country.”

    The Drumstick Dash is an annual run and walk fundraiser event hosted in Broad Ripple by Wheeler Mission and takes place Thanksgiving day. As they prepare for the 17th annual Dash, with more than 14,000 volunteers and over 19,000 participants, they are hoping to raise one million dollars. 

    “It’s something people really enjoy and have made a tradition for their family, but we make sure they know that when [they] cross that finish line they’re helping people who experience homelessness, addiction, poverty, hunger,” Crispin said. 

    There are two courses participants can take, a 4.6 mile and a 2.75 mile course, and every dollar made after crossing the finish line goes to Wheeler Mission. 

    For the Thanksgiving lunch and dinner however, people can donate both money and food to Wheeler Mission so they can feed the 1,200-1,500 families they see that day.

    This year, they are hoping to provide 28,783 meals, and by donating money and food to Wheeler Mission, you can help feed those in the community who are in need. 

    “So this Thanksgiving there’s going to be turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mac n’ cheese, collard greens, cranberry sauce [and] dinner rolls,” Chef and Food Service Director Samuel Brown said. “[We are preparing to feed] everyone that shows up on the Eastside.”

     For the three shelters that are serving food, they each have a dining room, and the meals are served to the families as if they were at a restaurant rather than them walking down a food line. Volunteers will serve the meal to them, making the experience more personal and heartwarming. 

    There are many more yearly volunteering options available for those that are interested. For further information, visit their website, wheelervolunteer.org. 

    “People love Wheeler,” Crispin said. “It’s fun to work for something that is so well respected in the community.”