The Caring Community of Cabbage Patch

Jennifer Ferguson, Abby Davis, Eloise McCarthy, Molly Parsons, Maggie Dickman and Becky Lyles.

Story by Graham Pilotte

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

For some low-income Louisville families, the holidays are a source of worry since the expense of Christmas presents can put a severe financial strain on parents. But through certain programs like the ones at Cabbage Patch Settlement House, these families can ensure Santa doesn’t miss their house this year.

“The Cabbage Patch is a local, nonprofit, Christian organization. We work to empower children and their families to be self-sufficient, and one way we do this is with the Christmas basket program,” explains Jesse Hendrix Inman, Public Relations and Grants Manager for Cabbage Patch Settlement House. “We’ve partnered with Second Presbyterian Church to take at-risk families shopping and then to play Santa Claus by wrapping the gifts and delivering the packages.”

Norah and Chris Parks.

The event is a blessing to many Louisville families. “Most of the people we serve are low-income, and they’ll start the new year in debt in order to give their children a merry Christmas,” Inman explains. “By sponsoring this program, Second Presbyterian allows families to start 2018 in a better financial place, and it also shows them that the community cares.” Second Presbyterian raises funds for each family, and then takes them shopping for the perfect gifts for each child. After the gifts are selected, church volunteers help to festively wrap each present and deliver them to the families’ homes.

“The holidays can be very stressful for families living on the edge of poverty, but this way they get to feel a sense of community with the Second Presbyterian families by getting together and going shopping,” Inman says. “The families can actually meet, find common ground and talk about the challenges they face with their kids; that’s what’s really unique about this program. And it isn’t just a feel-good activity; it really helps these families to be in a better financial place when the new year begins.”

The Cabbage Patch Settlement House has been active in Louisville since 1910, and provides much-needed services to local families. “A long-term staff member here used to say, ‘You don’t work your way out of poverty. You educate your way out,’” Inman says. “We focus on education as a solution to multigenerational poverty.” While Cabbage Patch focuses on long-term goals like a college education for participating children, it also tries to help families meet their short-term needs, like Christmas presents, as well.

For any community volunteers who want to help during the holidays, Inman suggests donating non-perishable food items. And for those who might be interested in a longer-term commitment, Cabbage Patch also needs help organizing its fundraising events. “We have three fundraisers per year, all put on by volunteer committees,” Inman says. “We would really love for people to help with that. We don’t receive any government funding—it’s community volunteers and supporters that have kept us going for over a hundred years. In essence, it’s our donors who keep us afloat.”

For families who are struggling through the holiday season, Cabbage Patch Settlement House is providing a badly-needed boost. Partnering with local churches like Second Presbyterian allows families in need to start the new year in a good financial place. “We’re so thankful for the support,” Inman says. “Programs like this show our families that the community cares.” VT