Betty Jo Vanek wraps presents for The Salvation Armys Gift of Warmth event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009.

Betty Jo Vanek wraps presents for The Salvation Army's Gift of Warmth event Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009.

Volunteers gathered to wrap and prepare 900 gift bags at The Salvation Army’s Disaster Service Training Facility Wednesday, Dec. 2 to be distributed to residents in the Indianapolis area. This event is named Gift of Warmth and plans to reach those who are in need and unable to get out of their homes.

Volunteers will be visiting over 700 homes Saturday, Dec. 5 to distribute the gift packages to residents who are elderly, physically disabled and are, in some way or another, shut-in their homes. Some of the gift recipients are people recommended by community organizations or visiting nurses.

Literally, the event is helping to distribute warmth by the giving of blankets as one of the five gifts in the gift bags. Other gifts include a calendar, a stuffed teddy bear and snacks, all of which were purchased by donated funds.

Coordinator for the event is Salvation Army Major Judy Eagle who has been carrying out the event for 6 years now, but says that this has been going on for many years now.

“The visit is almost more important than the gifts,” said Major Eagle who believes that the human touch is the real gift being given.

This yearly Gift of Warmth event is made possible largely by the 70 or more volunteers who wrap the presents and then hand them out. Many of the volunteers are with The Salvation Army’s Women’s Auxiliary.

June Jensen volunteered at the gift assembling. “It’s hard sometimes to see how people live,” said Jensen, a retired Salvation Army employee of 20 years. “Some of them have nothing.”

Other yearly volunteers for the event include Milo Vanek and his wife Betty Jo. They have been volunteers since Milo Vanek’s retirement in 1989.

“One thing about volunteering is that you meet the greatest people on earth because they are willing to help other people,” said Milo Vanek.

Betty Jo Vanek has also volunteered for the Salvation Army for many years. “We’ve helped Major Judy with many things… It’s our world. It’s our life,” says Betty Jo Vanek.

This event serves a couple of purposes. First it’s The Salvation Army’s goal to give the residents the gift of warmth by delivering these gift bags. Secondly, it gives volunteers a chance to make sure that residents are doing well and make notations of the resident’s condition. If a residence needs assistance then volunteers can refer them to receive the help they need.