Rick Poppitz
Special to The Gardner News
In Edgerton, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund goes back a long way. Don Roberts, mayor, can’t date precisely when it started but says “back to the Rita Moore days.”
The fund raises money for Edgerton families that may not have the resources to celebrate the holidays. Funds are used to purchase gifts, food and/or essentials for these families. The program has expanded over recent years.
No public money is involved – donations come entirely from private citizens, businesses, and other organizations that wish to donate to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund.
Recipients are identified by a board of advisors from the schools, churches and other organizations that deal with the public. The primary goal is to make sure recipients get a gift and a meal for Christmas.
“This Christmas, there were 29 families that were helped in one form or another, that’s 115 individuals,” said Roberts.
In addition, the fund paid for hams that were delivered by firefighters from Fire District #1 to 49 Edgerton senior citizens.
Roberts and his wife Shelby have been involved in making deliveries for years, and the program has a special place in their hearts.
“A good community and great community members step up and help those people along, and that’s what I think makes community great,” he said.
The fund spent about $15,000 on Christmas gifts this year.
In August, the fund also raised money for an additional special project – a bathroom remodel for a wheelchair bound resident.
The goal was to provide the resident with an ADA accessible bathroom in her home.
“When we first started, we were expecting around $10,000, but as bids and costs came in, they were a lot higher. So I went and found some corporate partners that would donate the additional money, so we could accomplish the full task, and we did,” Roberts said.
It ended up being a $30,000 job that improved the resident’s quality of life immeasurably.
Roberts hopes they can take on similar projects in the future.
“We have limited funds; it’s really a grant program to fund these projects. We want to help the people that need it the most with the money we have available,” said Roberts.