One unnoticed email threatens Christmas for more than 300 children in Kansas City.
This Friday was to have been the fifth year that the Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center had arranged with the Marine Corps charity Toys for Tots to distribute presents to disadvantaged children served by the center. Then on Christmas Day, more toys would be handed out by Santa Claus at another holiday party in which food, clothing and personal care items also would be offered to adults.
Most of the children served by the center come from struggling, one-parent families. They don’t have a lot of money. They don’t have a lot of Christmas.
“They don’t have a lot of anything,” said Deborah Mann, executive director of the center at 2416 Swope Parkway.
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For many of the children, this may be the only Christmas present they get. But because of a misunderstanding and an unread message, the Emmanuel center missed the Toys for Tots deadline.
“Our season is now closed and all of our donations distributed,” local Toys for Tots coordinator Staff Sgt. David Francis wrote to the center in an email Monday.
An earlier email dated Nov. 3 — the one that was overlooked — explained that the Toys for Tots foundation now requires a list of names of the children to receive toys. The deadline was Nov. 18.
Mann said she became aware of that on Monday and asked for a number to which she could fax the names, but it was too late.
Aleta Hubbard, a strong supporter of the Emmanuel center along with her husband, Dean, talked to Mann on the phone Monday night.
“She was sobbing so hard I had difficulty understanding her,” Hubbard said.
The Emmanuel center offers educational day care for more than 200 children from infancy to age 14. Another 30 or so children come to the center after school.
Usually, a couple of days before Christmas they are treated to a holiday program at the Emmanuel Community Center, 3510 Prospect Ave. Then on Christmas Day, what organizers call The Miracle on 35th Street serves anyone who doesn’t have a place to go or eat. Children coming to either event anticipate they will receive a toy.
Hubbard and her family are donating money so the child development center can buy some toys to distribute. Others may donate money or new toys to the Swope Parkway or Prospect Avenue location or call the childhood center at 816-921-3164 for more information.
Denise Crawford, human resources director at the center and Mann’s assistant, said toys in the past have included model cars, board games, stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, Nerf guns and a variety of other amusements. Toys for Tots has a set of guidelines for donors. If toys are wrapped, they should include a note indicating what age and gender they are suitable for.