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Lawyers help make holiday season bright for those in need

Dave Stafford
December 18, 2013
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For more than a decade, lawyers Will and Alicia Gooden have hosted a holiday party at their home and asked their attorney friends to bring a toy that could be donated to a worthy charity.

“Every year it got a little more packed,” said Will Gooden, a partner at Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn LLP, and an Indianapolis city-county councilman. “It was a chaotic but fun atmosphere.”

Alicia Gooden, an attorney with The Mediation Group in Indianapolis, estimates the parties that she and her sister, Elizabeth Kallas, started years back have collected $25,000 to $35,000 worth of toys. But the events were outgrowing their home, so the Goodens this season chose to stage the event at Flat 12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis on a recent Saturday evening.
 

seasons-tree-15col.jpg Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP paralegal Jana Noble (left) and marketing and events specialist Jamie Caligiuri trim a patriotic-themed Christmas tree the firm sponsored during the City Sidewalks decorating contest Dec. 13 on Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

“We really wanted to see if this can be a springboard to something bigger and greater,” she said.

By all accounts, it could be. About 100 people turned out and donated more than 200 toys and hundreds of dollars to buy gift cards, Alicia Gooden said.

The Goodens aren’t alone among attorneys whose traditions of giving make a difference during the holidays.

“You need to give back to the community,” said Dave Hollenbeck, a partner with the Valparaiso general practice firm Blachly Tabor Bozik & Hartman LLC. He said that was a commitment when Quentin Blachly and Glenn Tabor founded the firm 52 years ago.

“It’s been instilled in all of us, and we attempt to instill it in all who come along,” Hollenbeck said.

So it is that the 40-plus attorneys and staff at the firm volunteer time each holiday season as bell-ringers for the Salvation Army at various locations around Porter County. Additionally, the firm each year adopts a family and provides toys and gifts.
 

Seasons_gifts-1col.jpg Attorney Alicia Gooden (center) and her sister, Elizabeth Kallas, deliver toys to Rex Fisher, director of development at the Shepherd Community Center on Indianapolis’ east side. Gooden and her husband, Will, who is also an attorney, host an annual toy drive. This year they held the drive at Flat 12 Bierwerks and collected more than 200 toys for the community center to give to children in need. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

“We selected Salvation Army to do this because we’ve always admired their commitment to taking care of those who for one reason or another are less fortunate than we are,” Hollenbeck said.

This year, the firm’s adopted family is a mother and father who lost their jobs and have three children to provide for. “The lists are long when the needs are great,” Hollenbeck said.

The Hollingsworth & Zivitz firm in Carmel continued a tradition this year when it adopted a family in need from among its clients and purchased gifts for them. The firm also collects for Toys for Tots drives and clothing for the Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis, said founding partner Kena Hollingsworth.

Those are things the firm has done for years, Hollingsworth said. But this year, lawyers at the firm added another charitable offering: The firm will donate 10 percent of its December profits to charity, she said.

“Small things, when you can come together, can make a really big difference in peoples’ lives,” Hollingsworth said.

Amy Wheatley, an attorney at the Law Office of Nick Stein in New Albany and president of the Floyd County Bar Association, said her firm began a tradition years back dispensing with holiday gift-giving and instead helping out those in need.

Each year, Wheatley said, lawyers and staff at the small practice select several children from the local Salvation Army Christmas Tree and go on a shopping spree for toys, clothing, coats and whatever else the children might need. “We all get together and wrap it up before we deliver it,” she said.

It’s a tradition that brings the firm together in the giving spirit of the season, “rather than spending money on something that we don’t need or some sort of food item that God knows we don’t need this time of year,” she said.

seasons-bellringing-15col.jpg Randall J. Zromkoski, an attorney at Blachly Tabor Bozik & Hartman LLC in Valparaiso, and his wife, Jo Ellen, ring bells for the Salvation Army, as does everyone at the firm. For decades, the firm has helped the Porter County charity in various ways during the holidays. (Photo submitted)

Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP marketing coordinator Caitlin Church said the firm annually conducts a loose change collection and directs the proceeds to those in need. This year, donations will go to the victims of November’s deadly tornados in Peoria, Ill.

Church said the firm also donated money to purchase a tree for the City Sidewalks Tree Decorating Contest on Georgia Street in Indianapolis. Proceeds from the event benefit the Pack the Pantries Food Drive. Barnes & Thornburg LLP also sponsored a tree in the contest.

Members of BGD’s Women’s Forum also collected donations for four charities: Coburn Place, which assists survivors of domestic violence; the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center; Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Child Advocates Inc.

The gifts and proceeds the Goodens collected at their annual party this year will benefit families served by the Shepherd Community Center on Indianapolis’ near-east side. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty in the community.

Rex Fisher, director of development at Shepherd, said the facility will open its doors for parents Dec. 21 and 23 to select toys they will wrap and take home to their children. He said the center usually distributes about 3,000 toys annually.

Fisher said the toys do much more than make a child’s Christmas special.

“This is really a way we can partner with our parents,” Fisher said. Being able to allow parents to provide Christmas for children, “that’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to connect our staff with parents and form a deeper relationship.”

“This is all about making kids happy and giving a little joy at a time when there might not be a lot of joy in their lives,” Alicia Gooden said.•

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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