KC comes through for charities

Kansas Citians didn’t hesitate Friday when area charities made a last-minute appeal for toys, coats and money.

By noon, a revved-up community had answered the call.

Strangers carrying retail bags crammed with toys came from near and far to Della Lamb Community Services. The sight was overwhelming for agency leaders who had pleaded for help in a story Friday in The Star after realizing they were short by about 2,200 toys.

Despite the shortfall, the Kansas City non-profit decided to go forward with its Operation Santa Claus appointments. The agency had faith that the community would come through.

The most impressive effort came when the Blue Valley High School football team, which had learned of the toy shortfall earlier in the week, walked through the door bearing gifts.

“These guys had trash bags full of toys,” said Executive Vice President Judy Akers.

Akers said the agency needed to collect only a few hundred more toys before the outreach effort ends Tuesday. She was confident that goal would be met.

The players alone provided delivered upwards of 1,000 toys, the school district said.

“God really, he really touches people’s hearts. People walk in and we know they’re uncomfortable coming into a place like this, but they’re driven by love and concern,” Akers said. “You might think it’s only one toy to you, but it literally makes a Christmas miracle for an entire family. That’s what this is doing.”

The giving didn’t stop there.

Help came by the armfuls at the Johnson County Christmas Bureau, which was facing a heartbreaking decision of turning children away without a winter coat. Instead the agency was overwhelmed by do-gooders who wanted to make sure the bureau had the 700 children’s coats it needed. Some strangers passed through the bureau doors carrying coats on both arms.

“We have received new coats, used coats the phone is just ringing off the hook,” said a delighted Barbara McNeile, the organization’s executive director. “Every time someone comes in the door, they’re carrying coats.”

The best news is that administrators think they will be able to accommodate all remaining customers with a free coat when the outreach program ends Saturday. Of course, the bureau will accept more coats to either hand out next year or include in another area coat drive.

It’s not too late to help. Many area non-profits are still collecting for those in need. Go to www.unitedwaygkc.org/volunteer/holiday.html to find out how you can help. Della Lamb, the Johnson County Christmas Bureau and the Salvation Army are all still accepting financial contributions.