Service with a smile

Joy Abelgore, center right, hands a small candy bar to a shopper who just walked in to Shipshewana’s E&S Sales Tuesday morning. Abelgore was one of about 14 Arc of LaGrange County clients to volunteer their time to greet customers, hand out fliers and carry groceries to cars at the local store as part of Giving Tuesday.

SHIPSHEWANA — Shoppers arriving at E&S Sales Tuesday morning got a little surprise when they entered the store. They were quickly handed a small candy bar, a set of fliers listing all the day’s specials and given a large, warm smile, courtesy of Joy Abelgore of the Arc of LaGrange County.

Abelgore was part of a group of about 15 people from Arc spending a little time at the store as part of Giving Tuesday, a worldwide event that encourages everyone to do a little good as well as help out in their community.

Arc was at the store reminding people of the work they do to make the lives of people with disabilities richer and fuller, and asking those people to consider donating to Arc.

Arc had a good reason to be asking for donations. The Anthony Wayne Services Foundation of Fort Wayne announced last month it would match any gifts made to Arc of LaGrange County, up to $10,000, on Giving Tuesday. Only donations made to Arc on Tuesday qualified for the matching grant.

“We’re very excited about this Giving Tuesday,” said Deb Seman, president of Arc, as she watched a group of Arc staff and clients warmly greet people as they entered the store. “This is really a great opportunity afforded us by the AWS Foundation.”

Every penny counts at organizations like Arc. For the last several years, state and federal agencies that underwrite organizations like Arc have been cutting back on the money they send supporting the disabled. That makes events like Giving Tuesday all the more important. Still, Seman said, Tuesday wasn’t just about donations.

“We didn’t just want today about receiving money from the community, we wanted to give back too,” she said, explaining why Arc sent a group of its clients to E&S to greet shoppers. “We’re always looking for opportunities to involve our people in the community.”

E&S store owner Ervin Chupp welcomed the Arc volunteers into his store.

“We’ve really been looking forward to this,” he explained.

Chupp said he and his wife have been blessed with a large and healthy family, and opening his business’s doors to Arc is just one way to give back.

“I wanted to show the good Lord that I appreciate my family by helping others who hadn’t had it that way,” he said.

December is a very busy month for the staff and clients at Arc. On Monday Arc presents its annual Christmas Show. This year’s program is entitled “A Journey to Christmas” and Seman said everyone at Arc is looking forward to the show.

“This a is a huge night for everyone,” she said. “They’ve all been learning their parts and songs that’s they’ll be performing at the show.”

The show is free and open to the public. The performance starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Michiana Event Center, 455 E. Farver St., Shipshewana.

In addition to the Christmas program, Arc staff members will also be handing out the organization’s annual awards for all the work the Arc clients completed during the past year. Many Arc clients look forward to the awards program as much as they do the Christmas program.

“It gives everyone a chance to shine,” Seman said.

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