For the 13th year, Pettis County Public Administrator Charli Ackerman is asking area residents to get in the Valentine’s Day spirit by giving to her Helping Hearts fundraiser.
As a public administrator, Ackerman acts as a guardian for court-appointed residents, many who are either elderly or have a mental disability and most have no family that can care for them. Her annual Helping Hearts fundraiser helps her office bring in a few extra dollars to pay for expenses that grants or Medicaid/Medicare won’t pay for.
“I put it in a restricted account and use it for items for my folks that medical insurance, Medicare, Medicaid doesn’t pay for. We use it for dental, rent deposits, utilities; we just paid two months of utilities out of emergency funds for someone last month,” Ackerman explained. “Sometimes I do use it for some entertainment because they don’t get fun stuff most of the time, so occassionally I’ll even use it for something fun for folks.
“Or maybe some unnecessary item they really want really bad and they would never be able to get with their limited funds, so occassionally I will, but most of the time I’m very particular about what the money goes for, and I’m very frugal with the money as well.”
The first donation each year comes from Ackerman herself in memory of her late son, Nolan Ackerman, who died in 2005. Each donor can write their name on a paper heart to add to Ackerman’s display outside her office, or they can write “In Memory” or “In Honor,” or remain anonymous.
The fundraiser began in 2004 as a hat and glove drive around Christmas, but Ackerman said they received so many the first year they didn’t need more for awhile, so the fundraiser turned to monetary donations. It began with former Pettis County Eastern Commissioner Rod Lindeman who had seen the hat and glove drive in another county.
Ackerman said the donations have been “invaluable through the years” to “try to make (my clients’) lives the best they can be.”
“Most of them are on meager incomes — Social Security, disability, Medicaid — and they just have very limited funds,” she said. “Most of them are in homes — group homes, residential care facilities, nursing homes — and the income they do get has to go to pay for their room and board.”
The fundraiser runs roughly through Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. To donate, visit Ackerman’s office on the first floor of the Pettis County Courthouse, Suite 104, or mail a donation to Public Administrator’s Office, 415 S. Ohio Ave., Suite 104, Sedalia, Missouri 65301. Each donor will receive a personal thank you note from Ackerman.
“I’m very, very grateful to the Sedalia and Pettis County community and all of the people who donate to these funds,” Ackerman said. “They can rest assured that it goes to some very, very worthy causes. It relieves a lot of stress for many of these folks that need some of the things we use these funds for.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.