WARSAW — Local resident, Eugene Landry, wants to “give back” – and he is doing so in a big way.
Approximately two years ago Landry went to Combined Community Services to ask if they needed help with anything and was informed that they always have a need for help. Landry states he told personnel at CCS that he would be back. Two weeks later he was back – along with 626 pounds of food that he had collected through a food drive.
CCS contacted Landry this past summer regarding a summer food drive. Approximately half of the students in Kosciusko County are on free or reduced lunches, so during summer months extra stress is put on the families and on CCS to help provide for the families. Landry assisted them with the summer food drive, which they called “Hungry to Help.” They now plan on making this an annual event. When Landry approached Pandora, a local print shop, to see about having shirts printed up to promote the drive, Pandora offered a discounted rate for the shirts. One hundred percent of the money made from the sale of the shirts went directly to the drive.
Landry has done a purse drive for Fellowship Mission Homeless Shelter in the past where he collected purses that were then filled with hats, scarves, and hygiene products. He has also done volunteer work at the local VFW.
Landry stated that since he “is doing pretty well” himself, he would like to give back. He estimates he does two or three drives himself each year and also gets involved in other drives. Landry is contacted frequently, both by individuals and organizations, regarding drives. Sometimes the contact is a request for assistance with a specific drive; other times it is simply for advice pertaining to drives.
He states that often times people will leave items they would like to donate at the front door of his home.
He has tried to focus his volunteer efforts locally, as close to Warsaw as possible, noting “You can’t help on a bigger level until you start at home.”
Landry’s aunt, who is also active in assisting with drives, contacted him recently to ask if he knew of an organization that could use over 3,200 toys that had been collected. Landry assured her that he did, picking the toys up that same day. This past Saturday, Dec. 17, Landry and other volunteers sorted through the boxes of toys and put them in gift bags. Landry will be distributing these gifts to CCS to be given to children who otherwise might not be getting anything for Christmas. If there are “extra” toys, he will be taking some to Fellowship Missions Homeless Shelter.
“When I was growing up, CCS was there for my family. Now that I’m in a position to give back, there’s no reason not to,” Landry states. He adds that, although not everyone is able to help with a monetary donation or the donation of an item, a simple thing like sharing a post on FB or “liking” a post about a drive helps it to show up on news feeds. He emphasizes, “This gets the word out and this is why it has grown the way it has.”
Peggi Lisinbee-Wright, director of client assistance at Combined Community Services, affirms, “Eugene is just a really great guy with a huge heart, particularly for children in need.”