Pink and red heart-shaped decorations are popping up everywhere in preparation for Valentine’s Day next week, including the Pettis County Courthouse.
Pettis County Public Administrator Charli Ackerman has launched her 11th annual Helping Hearts fundraiser, with all the funds going to help her clients pay for necessities they may not otherwise be able to afford. Ackerman assists those in the county who are elderly or have a mental or physical disability, and while they qualify for some government aid, it isn’t always enough.
“One of the biggest things is that these folks have Social Security, disability, they’re on medicaid, on the social programs because of their illnesses and their situations. Consequently a lot of times there is not enough money to pay their bills, especially if they live in a facility,” Ackerman said. “If they live in a facility all of their money except about $40 goes to paying for room and board and meals and all of that. They have personal funds of about $40 a month to spend for themselves. Obviously that is not enough for many essential things that they need.”
That’s where the Helping Hearts fundraiser steps in. Each year since Ackerman was elected to office in 2004, she has asked the Pettis County community for monetary donations that can be used to offset costs such as emergency dental care, medication not covered by Medicaid, medical equipment and moving expenses when moving clients from one facility to another.
“We do this because most of these folks do not have extra funds for the basic necessities of life,” Ackerman said. “We do buy extra groceries for people sometimes, pay high electric or heating bills in the winter. Things that are vital… Just to help these folks out, these are people who don’t have anybody. The people I’m assigned to through the probate court system are people that do not have anybody else that can take care of them.
“They have mental illness, physical disabilities, developmental disabilities. Many of the elderly I get assigned to need a guardian that can make sure they’re taken care of. Someone who’s there for them.”
Those who make a donation during the month of February can write a message on a paper heart to be put on the display outside of Ackerman’s office. Some hearts and donations are in memory or in honor of someone. As of Monday, three hearts had been posted. All three were from Ackerman, in memory of her son, father and mother.
Ackerman added that although the fundraiser is themed around February and Valentine’s Day, donations are accepted year-round, which she said does happen from time to time.
“It’s amazing that the Sedalia citizens in the community step forward,” Ackerman said. “We usually have a nice pot of money to use until the next year. A huge gratitude goes to the citizens of Pettis County.”
Donations can be mailed to Pettis County Courthouse, 415 S. Ohio Ave., Suite 104, Sedalia, Mo. 65301, or brought to Ackerman’s office in person, located in Suite 104 on the first floor of the courthouse.