Karing for Kids Nets January Honor
The Wells County Chamber of Commerce staff and Ambassadors surprised Rhonda O’Reilly with Karing for Kids in Wells County as the December Member of the Month. Karing for Kids was a small project started by Rhonda and her husband Tim to grow the Kingdom of God by helping families in their community. A family tragedy led the cause to grow and sustain after 17 years to honor their daughter, Jennifer.
Karing for Kids originally started by Cathy Gossett in Logansport, Indiana, to honor the memory of her daughter. In 2003, Tim and Rhonda were asked by their church to take $50 and grow the Kingdom of God in 90 days and that is when they learned about Cathy’s mission and the reasoning behind it. The O’Reilly’s were touched by the mission and purpose of the organization. “Cathy lost her teenage daughter in a car accident and it touched our hearts,” said Rhonda.
A year and a half later Tim and Rhonda tragically lost their teenage daughter in an auto accident as well. “After we lost Jennifer, we knew we needed to carry on in her honor through Karing for Kids,” explained Rhonda. “We started working with the schools asking for referrals; in the beginning we served 176 children and each year it continued to grow.”
Karing for Kids offers three specific missions during the year such as Jennifer’s Closet (providing essential clothing items to families in need); School Supply Project (assists families during back-to-school time with backpacks full of school supplies); and The Blessing Tree Christmas Project (providing essential items as Christmas gifts to area children).
“In one year, we have served 905 youth through the Blessing Tree Christmas Project; 350 youth with the School Supply Project; and hundreds through Jennifer’s Closet” explained Rhonda. “We partner with area churches and schools for referrals and then provide trees to area organizations and businesses to help collect items.”
A stand-alone building is located on the east side of Markle Church of Christ located at 455 E Morse Street in Markle. “Our daughter, Jennifer, was always donating her clothes to those in need so Tim and I decided to offer a program, Jennifer’s Closet, to the community,” stated Rhonda. “Donations are taken at any time with a bin outside of the building. We accept new and used baby to adult clothing and always are in need of new socks and underwear.”
Rhonda said that many individuals will seek clearance items and donate them back to the programs and any financial donation is accepted to purchase needed supplies. “This community is awesome, and we couldn’t do what we need without the support. The partnership has been a huge blessing and the number of volunteers that help mean the world to us.”
Karing for Kids services are referred by school administration and social service agencies. “If anyone is in need, they can reach out to us by calling 260.273.0716 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to partner with organizations and agencies to fill the needs in our community,” concluded Rhonda.
Pictured in the photo left to right:
Cyndee Fiechter, North Eastern Group Realty, Chamber Ambassador
Jessica Beste, American Mortgage, Chamber Ambassador
Alyssa Sponseller, Archbold & Lewis, Chamber Ambassador
Jessica Skordos, Karing for Kids
Ashley O’Reilly, Karing for Kids
Tim O’Reilly, Karing for Kids
Becky Disbrow, Karing for Kids
Rhonda O’Reilly, Karing for Kids
Keith Muhlenkamp, First Merchants Bank, Chamber Ambassador
Erin Prible, Wells County Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director
Stephanie Hiday, Magical Vacations by Stephanie Hiday, Chamber Ambassador
Jean Bordner, News Banner, Chamber Ambassador
Stacey Duncan, WEG Commercial Motors, Chamber Ambassador