By Greg Seiter // Photography by Christina Cosner and Submitted
Early in his banking career, Franklin native Jake Sappenfield, who now serves as senior vice president, commercial market president – Indianapolis First National Bank, is told that community involvement was an essential part of networking and making connections. It was even suggested for him to get involved with the Johnson County Good Cheer Fund.
“That was a pivotal moment for me, as I was 23 years old and had only focused on myself,” Sappenfield said.
His involvement with the Good Cheer Fund was lifechanging. So much so, in fact, that Sappenfield learned to look past the potential for personal gain through business relationships and realized the joy in helping others.
“Good Cheer is a passion for me,” said Sappenfield, who has three daughters with his wife, Elizabeth.
“When you’re hungry, you really can’t focus on anything else. I like the idea that we can take that stress away from people for a short period of time.”
What is the Good Cheer Fund?
It is a Johnson County-based organization that provides Johnson County families with food during the Christmas season. This year, we will deliver 900 food baskets to 900 families. Each basket will have 25 to 30 canned goods and more than 25 perishable/non-perishable food items, such as ham, eggs, milk, rice, brownie mix and cookies.
There are multiple groups within the county that assist with the process, including Johnson County REMC, the Daily Journal and the Franklin Rotary Club. Other groups like Leadership Johnson County also help behind the scenes. In addition, we have more than 200 volunteers who pick up the canned goods, sort them and deliver the baskets to the homes of those in need.
How and when was the Good Cheer Fund started?
It originated in 1921 by a group of volunteers who wanted to help others. Local churches and service clubs, such as Rotary, wanted to help families during the holidays. The goal was to provide families with a Christmas day meal. That has expanded into several meals over the years.
What is your role with the organization?
I have been chairperson since 2009. I spend most of my time coordinating with volunteers and working with applicants to ensure they will have an opportunity to receive a food basket.
What does the Good Cheer Fund mean to this community?
For those receiving a basket, I hope it gives them temporary relief. Life is challenging and keeps getting more challenging. I hope we can help them during this special time of the year and put a smile on their face. For the volunteers, it’s a symbol of the Christmas season, and it’s a reminder that we live in a community that helps its neighbors.
What can others to do help and get involved?
Donations can be made through the Daily Journal or by sending a check directly to the Good Cheer Fund at P.O. Box 237, Franklin, IN 46131. You can also contact me through the Good Cheer Facebook page to volunteer for a sorting day, and you can even fill out an application for someone who may need help through the Good Cheer Fund and send that information to our P.O. Box.