Starke County


The James R. Hardesty Leadership in Philanthropy Award
Celebrating those who give and those who care.

 Download the Nomination Form

The Starke County Community Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2015 James R. Hardesty Leadership in Philanthropy Awards, celebrating outstanding achievement by individuals, and charitable organizations that serve Starke County, Indiana.

James R. Hardesty’s life of giving made a significant impact on the Starke County community in which he lived. He established endowment funds that benefit Starke County forever, and encouraged others to do the same. Jim’s philosophy of giving was stated simply and poignantly; "If you can't do a lot, do what you can.” Jim’s contributions to the Community Foundation make up the largest to date, from a single donor in any of the three counties that the Northern Indiana Community Foundation serves.

This will be the first year for the annual award that bears the name of this amazing local philanthropist that passed away on May 24, 2014 at 92 years of age. The award will alternate between highlighting the achievements of an outstanding individual philanthropist and an effective and worthwhile organization that makes an impact in the community.

Find out more about this special award:

Kids' Closet - A Ministry of the North Judson United Methodist Church
Meeting the needs of children across Starke County


Since 2013, Kids' Closet a ministry of the North Judson United Methodist Church has been putting the needs of several hundred Starke County children in the spotlight. What began as an idea of Linda Lewandowski, who wanted to reach out and help kids in Starke County, has turned into a community-wide support system for kids and their families.

With help from community members, volunteers, and grants from the Community Foundation and others, Kids’ Closet provides necessities like shoes, clothes, backpacks, and school supplies for children of all ages in need.

The Starke County Community Foundation (SCCF) first gave a grant to Kids’ Closet in 2013 when we saw that Kids’ Closet is truly making a difference in the lives of Starke County children. The SCCF has given more than $7,000 to Kids’ Closet, including $4,000 from Community Funds.

Linda, now the organization’s volunteer executive director, first saw the need when her kids were in school and noticed that particular classmates didn’t have shoes that fit. Later, a friend shared with Linda that her granddaughter asked if she could buy a new coat and shoes for a boy in her class who didn’t have a coat and whose shoes had holes in them.

These events spurred Linda to action, and Kids’ Closet expects to assist more than 1,000 Starke County children this year.












Making a Difference in Starke County

Sarah Origer, Director of Development for the
Starke County Community Foundation 574.772.3665 or email

Each year, the Starke County Community Foundation awards thousands of dollars in Community Fund grants. Sadly, we never come close to funding all the requests we receive or meeting the need in Starke County. In 2014, we received funding requests of more than $44,000.

This is why we launched the Starke County Community Fund Campaign. Our Campaign was spurred by a generous match offered by the Lilly Endowment, and all gifts to the Campaign are being matched dollar for dollar.

In total, we’ve matched 77% of our overall goal, but we still have $172,000 to go to make the Community Fund Campaign a success.

If you’ve already given, we thank you! And we want you to see how your dollars are benefiting Starke County.

If you haven’t given yet, please consider making a gift! All gifts to the Starke County Community Fund Campaign will be matched dollar for dollar until March 31, 2016.