By: Al Holdren —
Muncie, IN—In December of 2004, Chris (my wife) and I decided to not buy presents for each other for Christmas and use the money to provide a family in need with a tree and presents for the holiday. The story begins with two tables setup in the garage, Chris and my two daughters, Katie and Maddie, a few Santa hats and some wrapping paper and bows.
As the presents were being wrapped, my brother-in law, arriving for Christmas with the family, inquired about what we were doing. I explained. Within the hour, with his credit card in hand, we headed back to Meijer to buy for a second family.
The name and secret part of Secret Families comes from a friend, who suggested that the name be based upon what I told him our family was going to do that Christmas. He told me, “Here, take this money to sponsor a family in need, but keep it a “secret.”
So, in 2004, we started with 2 families. By 2008, we were up to 22 families. In 2013—287. This year (2016) we are currently up to 360 families.
The families we serve come exclusively from local school principals throughout Delaware and Randolph counties. We ask principals for recommendations of families that are in the greatest need and they have always come through for us.
Our program has very few rules—just lots of hard working volunteers for 3 months a year and a group of very generous donors. We fund the program primarily on donations of $550 and under. We also have a few small fundraisers—and some employees in Delaware and Randolph county often contribute as a group— up to $2500 per year, per company.
Families that are struggling, really need to know that the community cares about them and will help them. We hope that through Secret Families, we can provide a little hope and faith to them—and perhaps help them UP when they need a hand. We get hundreds of responses from people we help. Take a look at a few comments below we’ve received from some of the recipients of our Secret Families program.
I know it sounds crazy, but I am 30 years old and have NEVER had a BRAND NEW bed in my life! I slept sooo good last night in my new bed! Saying Thank You doesn’t even begin to express my gratitude! —Secret Family recipient
We didn’t know there were 30 people that cared whether our family lived or died and you guys showed with more people than that to deliver us a Christmas! I am overwhelmed!—Secret Family recipient
Thanks for helping a young man who has been living in his car in the parking lot.—Secret Family recipient
We will allow you to help us if we can give back next year!—Secret Family recipient
We sincerely appreciate the thousands of volunteers who take a little bit of their time to give back to the community each year. We could not do it without them.
Watch the video below to learn more about Al Holdren, his Secret Families program and experience for yourself the immense community involvement associated with this project.
Click below to listen to Al Holdren discuss Secret Families with Steve Lindell