Our Storybook

Giving transforms lives. Explore our storybook to see how your gifts create positive change.


Dr. Phillip Shirley's Shoe Santa Project

December 11, 2017

Early this snowy morning, the Shoe Santa made his list and checked it twice.  He enlisted a full crew of elves and invited them to Anderson’s Shoe Carnival in the quiet hour before the store opened to the public.

One by one, children’s names, ages, and shoe sizes were called out.  Shoe Santa’s elves scurried about, seeking the right size and best style for each child.  The elves found tiny shoes, large shoes, glittery shoes, and rugged shoes and labeled each with a child’s name.  They carried stacks of shoes to a tall silver rack where Shoe Carnival staff inspected each pair to ensure they were properly matched.  Shoe Santa reminisced, “One year, I got ice skates for Christmas, and got two right skates.  Boy.  That was a bummer!”

As Shoe Santa reached the end of his list, Shoe Carnival staff assigned all eligible discounts and helped load the boxes into the Shoe Santa’s large white pickup truck.  At the end of this expedition, the Shoe Santa had purchased 92 pairs of shoes for children in need.

Shoe Santa and his elves wrap each shoe box and ensure delivery in time for Christmas.  The families who receive shoes from are heartened by the gifts.  For a rare moment, they don’t have to make a calculated choice between buying new shoes for their child’s growing feet and new jeans for their longer legs.  Shoe Santa’s generosity offers encouragement.  “Know that someone understands your struggle.  Know that someone cares. ”

Read More: Dr. Phillip Shirley's Shoe Santa Project

The JoAnn Karaffa-Owens Continuing Education Fund

JoAnn Karaffa-Owens' life work has focused on her passions for continual learning. As a lifelong educator and former principal, JoAnn understands the importance of education in building strong communities and strong leaders. Whether it be through volunteering at Pendleton Christian Church, participating with the Lions Club, or leading the Pendleton Travel Company, JoAnn's life has been exemplified by serving others, strengthening her community, and lifelong learning and exploration.

Read More: The JoAnn Karaffa-Owens Continuing Education Fund

Liberating the Love Within Your Heart - Tenfold

Joe* and Tyler met in Drafting class, where they enjoyed talking about the Colts and Cubs and doing group projects. Drafting was the highlight of Joe's schedule that year, thanks to Tyler. Struggling with low self-esteem, Joe looked to Tyler's consistent faith and encouragement to help him get through tough times. Joe said, "Tyler was just being Tyler" — the kind of person who inspires positivity, generosity, and understanding by modeling those qualities himself.

Devastatingly, Tyler passed away during his senior year at Pendleton Heights. As a tribute to his memory, his family created a scholarship to celebrate Tyler's giving spirit. They attributed this to the many role models in Tyler's own life — family members, pastor, teachers — who taught him the joy of giving.

Read More: Liberating the Love Within Your Heart - Tenfold

After the Tornado

First, she realized her bird feeders were gone.

Betty had looked out this kitchen window for seven decades, but she had never seen the neighbor’s house. Until ten minutes before, massive century-old trees shielded her view with shaded protection. The tornado had taken them in moments. Betty soon realized that the tornado had also taken her confidence. Could she manage the cleanup? Afford the repairs? The bigger question nagged at her: could she still live independently?

Sara had an emergency kit on the hook by the basement stairs. As a single mom, she didn’t leave anything to chance. Yet, it didn’t occur to her that she might be on the road with all the kids when a tornado formed over their car. She didn’t have a plan for this. Nobody was hurt, but she was shaken by the idea that their health and safety really just boiled down to dumb luck. Sometimes that made her grateful, but often it just made her feel hopeless- or angry.

Read More: After the Tornado

Tornado Recovery

On Memorial Day of 2019, a tornado cut a path through Pendleton, damaging 500 homes and toppling many hudreds of trees throughout the historic district and Falls Park. In the days following, South Madison Community Foundation was instrumental in convening, hosting, and facilitating a Long Term Recovery Group that would work for 18 months to assist residents in recovering from the lingering effects of the tornado. In this work, the Long Term Recovery Group:

  • Assisted with ongoing support of 160 Unmet Needs cases.
  • Developed relationships with United Way of Madison County (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), Madison County Emergency Management, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and Indiana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). Relationships developed in these organizations have positioned the local community to best support citizens in future disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cooperated in the production of a guide to best practices for community recovery. 
  • Helped secure disaster funding and volunteer service from the Small Business Administration, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the South Madison Community Foundation, United Way of Madison County (COAD), and many corporate neighbors and church groups.
  • "Pendleton Tree Recovery" project planted 300 new trees throughout residences and Falls Park. The project was a collaborative effort between the Foundation, Town of Pendleton, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Pendleton Tree Commission, Falls Park, Friends of Falls Park, International Paper, and the Arbor Day Foundation. In the project, over 400 volunteers planted trees in one day.
Read More: Tornado Recovery

Honoring Charlene Daugherty

Charlene Daugherty wasn't afraid to get a little dirty to make Pendleton green and pretty.

Charlene's vision of seasonally delightful trees and riotous blossoms form the set on which life's moments play out for visitors to Falls Park.

Charlene delighted in taking care of the green expanses of the park, forming the heart of the community through places where generations of local residents have met, played, grown, and connected. Lives have been lived and milestones celebrated against the green backdrop of a mature tree canopy, accompanied by the sounds of rushing water and children’s laughter.

Charlene treated Falls Park like an extension of her own yard and garden. Now, following the Memorial Day tornado that damaged the Park and its familiar, leafy skyline, we know what Charlene would be doing. Charlene would be digging. She would be planting. She would be pruning. She would be designing the future.

If you’d like to honor Charlene’s spirit and follow in her occasionally muddy footprints, please consider a gift in her memory.

Gifts will be designated for new tree stock to help re-green Falls Park.

Make a Gift

Please note “Charlene” in the notes field so we may allocate your gift appropriately.

Foghorn Farms Fountain Renovation

As a child living on a farm halfway between Pendleton and Lapel during the Great Depression, Warren Huntzinger lived for the days his family would visit town. If they visited Pendleton, Warren could wade in the creek near the Falls and run free on the playground with the kids who lived in town.

The best days were the ones when the Huntzingers would while away the evening with a shady picnic, hesitating long enough to catch a phenomenal show at dusk. That’s when the electric lights in the tiered fountain came on, illuminating the water in prismatic red, blue, and green light. Warren recalled, “I had never seen anything like it. It was magical.”

Read More: Foghorn Farms Fountain Renovation

Sprinkle That Stuff Everywhere!

Last week, one of the Foundation Board members and I volunteered for an event produced by our colleagues at United Way of Madison County. The job description for the volunteer post at Blast Off to Kindergarten had only one requirement: 'Must want to have fun!". We felt qualified.

Read More: Sprinkle That Stuff Everywhere!