Go to your dentist and help others. That’s an opportunity Hurd Family Dental is giving patients this year.
The group is a part of a growing number of local businesses participating in the Lee’s Summit Social Services Angel Tree program this December. Through the month, organizations put stars on trees in an effort to gather a variety of items for those in need of help during the holiday season.
Last year, about a dozen businesses and churches participated. This year, nearly 20 are taking part. Hurd Family Dental has been a part of the program for a few years. Office manager Kady Moore says they usually start with about 30 stars, but end up going back for more before the season is over.
“We love doing it every year. Our patients look forward to it to,” Moore said. “We get a set of the cards for our tree and set it up after Thanksgiving, and usually we need to get more. Everyone just loves helping the kids.”
Lee’s Summit Social Services Executive Director Matt Sanning says the growth in participation is important because it meets the organization’s demand, which also has grown.
“For years we were hovering around 500 to 600 children, then last year, we had an uptick to about 700,” Sanning said. “And this year, early projections are about 900.”
Part of the growth has come from an increased push toward social media communication from Lee’s Summit Social Services. By upping the group’s presence on Facebook and Instagram and communicating better on its website, Sanning says they are able to reach potential clients as well as potential partners.
“When we have a need, we can put out the need on that day and the response is immediate,” Sanning said.
The organization serves about 1,900 families throughout the year with basic items like food and clothing as well as utility assistance — another need that has grown greatly this year.
Other organizations are helping the Lee’s Summit Social Services this holiday season in ways that extend beyond the Angel Tree program.
Bridge Space held a Holiday Fest craft fair Dec. 2 to raise money for the organization.
Budget Blinds is holding a “fill the stocking” event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 14 in which visitors are asked to bring in grocery or gas cards as well as warm socks, hats and gloves to fill a stocking and visit with Santa. Everyone who brings a donation will get a free photo with Santa.
The Angel Trees grew out of the organization’s adopt-a-family program. The earlier program allowed the adoption of a single family at a time. While the idea helped many, it created inequity based on the means of the organization or people who adopted the family.
Thus, the Angel Tree program was started.
“Then, the gift is from Mom or Dad,” Sanning said. “A lot of the kids don’t know their parents aren’t doing very well, and this gives them the opportunity to give to their kids and still pay their bills.”
Sanning also credits the Angel Tree program with allowing more people to be charitable. Businesses enjoy engaging their clients and providing their employees a way to give back to the community.
The Angel Tree stars will be available at organizations around Lee’s Summit through Dec. 16. To participate, stop by the Lee’s Summit Social Services office or one of the participating locations including: Our Lady of the Presentation School, Lee’s Summit Historical Society & Museum, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Grace United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Reece Nichols Lee’s Summit, St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church,Arrowhead Yacht Club - Lake Winnebago, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Grains & Taps, Life Transformations Personal Training, Braces By Dr. Hansen, Cookie Jar Bakery, Hurd Family Dentistry, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Keller Williams Platinum Partners, Creative World School, US Asset Services, Walmart.