For the past 22 years, Kathie Benson has led groups of volunteers in organizing the annual Grove Community Giveaway, and this year will be no different as they make plans to serve nearly 2,000 citizens during the Monday, Dec. 4 event.
“The Giveaway is like a huge, free yard sale where people are able to get what they need,” Benson said. “A lot of people are in need this time of year, and we give away good quality clothing, toys, furniture and electronics to those who might not be able to afford them.”
Benson is the student advisor at the Northeast Tech Kansas Campus, but prior to coming to Northeast Tech, she worked for a program called Health Families. It was during this time that the annual Giveaway was born.
“Healthy Families was a parenting program funded through the state’s Child Abuse Prevention Department, and we were required to conduct a yearly community event as part of our grant funding obligations,” Benson said. “People were always making donations – mostly baby items – and once a year we gave it away. Over the years, it just kept getting bigger.”
Benson laughed as she recalled the first Giveaway, which had roughly seven people in attendance.
“We started out at a church, then we moved to the fairgrounds and now we’re at the Civic Center, the cost of which is covered by my church, the Church of the Shepherd,” said Benson. “This year, I have 195 volunteers signed up to help, and since we served 1,805 people last year, we’re planning for more this year.”
A significant portion of those volunteers are students from Northeast Tech, and many will spend their free time during the weekend helping Benson set up tables and signage that are critical to keeping the event organized.
“We have to be extremely organized or it would be chaos,” Benson said. “We also take the time to go through every single donation to make sure it’s up to our standard. We don’t give away trash. If you wouldn’t give it to someone you love, we won’t give it away.”
The community has also provided tremendous support throughout the event’s 20 plus year run.
“One year there was an ice storm, and the county came and put up lights and generators for us,” said Benson. “The businesses are also supportive. Grand Savings bank adopted us one year and their employees bought and donated brand new items.”
Benson also credits her family and friends with keeping the event alive in the community.
“I was going to stop on year 19, but my youngest son, Josh, said, ‘Mom, you cannot not do this. Too many people depend on it,’” Benson said. “Now, he’s in charge of a big part of the event, along with my other family and church friends who take care of very detail, including feeding the workers.”
Those wanting to bring new or gently used donations can drop them off at the Grove Civic Center any time Friday, Dec. 1 to Monday, Dec. 4. This year’s annual Grove Community Giveaway takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 4, at the community center, 1702 South Main in Grove.
Did You Know?
22nd Community Give Away
The 22nd Annual "Community Give Away" will take place from 4 to 7 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 4, at the Grove Civic Center, 1702 South Main, Grove.
Donations may be dropped off at the civic center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3 and from 9 a.m. till the event start, on Monday, Dec. 4.
For more information, persons interested may call Kathie Benson at 918-801-3132 or OSU Delaware County Extension at 918-253-4332.