In July, longtime Project A.N.G.E.L. President Rita Hodson passed away, leaving some uncertainty for the future of the organization.
Now Hodson’s daughter, Nikki Ford, is following in her mother’s footsteps as the president and is letting people know that the non-profit organization isn’t going anywhere.
“I think the board decided Project A.N.G.E.L. would keep going immediately after my mom’s death,” Ford said. “On Aug. 27, we had a board meeting and then we had a community meeting asking for volunteers to help cover a lot of the things that my mom did, because she kind of used Project A.N.G.E.L. as her full-time job. At that August meeting, I was elected president.”
However, with all that comes with the position, Ford said she wasn’t sure she would be able to keep up with it.
“I honestly was getting ready to resign because my kids were pulling me different directions,” she said. “Mom was so passionate about this. I couldn’t just let it go. I had to step up, whether it was me taking over or someone else on the board taking over. I knew that it had to keep going because this was her passion.”
Ford said her mother went above and beyond as president.
“The months of November and December, there were nights that she slept at Project A.N.G.E.L.,” she said. “She made sure that every kid got what they asked for for Christmas and made sure the orders were correct … she went out to the houses the next day and made sure they were correct. She had a heart for kids and a heart for the community and I couldn’t let that die when she left.”
Ford said she wants everyone to know there is a lot planned by the organization.
“We’re doing the concession stand at Ghosts and Goblins at the Avon-Washington Township Park on Oct. 26,” she said. “We’re also doing the concessions at the craft fair at the park on Nov. 16. Then we have our main Christmas Drive that we do. Our food drive will be Dec. 2 through Dec. 13 and we’ll have our delivery day on Dec. 14.”
There are also plans for new projects.
“We are also ordering Christmas ornaments in memory of Rita Hodson, my mom,” Ford said. “Because she loved Christmas so much and wanted every kid to have Christmas, we thought the best way to kind of honor her memory was to see if we could get these Christmas ornaments on every Christmas tree in Hendricks County, so that everybody had a little piece of Rita in their house during Christmas time. We’re working on designing those to have them for sale starting in November.”
There’s also going to be a scavenger hunt, as well as a father and daughter dance, and a new event in honor of her mother.
“It’s called Rita’s Ride and Family Day, which is going to be on May 10,” Ford said. “It’s going to be at the Avon Town Hall, where everyone will bring their bicycles and we’ll have a trail (ride) on the Avon bike trail system. People can bring picnic lunches and we’ll have some entertainment there. I’m working on trying to get some big name entertainment, but I haven’t got it finalized that they’ll be coming.”
She’s also working on getting ping pong and disc golf tournaments going that day as more incentive for families to come out.
“My mom was very focused on the family, that’s something we wanted to do to honor her as well,” Ford said.
She said Project A.N.G.E.L. is also looking to add a new mission to go along with its main Christmas project.
“We are also looking to develop a new … mission of Project A.N.G.E.L., (which will still be about) helping people that are in need, but being able to help kids with sports,” Ford said. “(The organization will) start collecting used sports equipment, so that those that aren’t able to buy any can come over and get some used equipment, so that their kids can play sports as well.”
Ford said Project A.N.G.E.L. is also going to be helping to raise awareness for heart disease, in honor of her mother.
“My mom died of heart disease and we had no idea she had heart disease — no one had any idea,” she said. “Feb. 7 is national Wear Red Day to bring awareness of heart disease, so we were going to kind of push that with Hendricks County … through Project A.N.G.E.L. to try to get people to wear read on Feb. 7 to bring awareness of heart disease and women and how it can go undetected.”
But Project A.N.G.E.L.’s bread and butter will most likely always be its Christmas efforts, which costs about $25,000 a year, Ford said.
“We want to provide for those families that don’t necessarily qualify for state assistance, but they don’t make enough to be able to have the extras that they need,” Ford said. “We call it like the working poor. We’re there for the working poor to be able to help them make ends meet and have Christmas, have new winter clothes, and have events that they can take their children to.”
For more information or to donate to Project A.N.G.E.L., visit the website at www.hcprojectangel.org or search Facebook for Project A.N.G.E.L.