For more than two decades, the staff at Operation Breakthrough, with much support from the community, has provided Christmas gifts and holiday meals to families in need in the central city. In 2011, the Center adopted out more than 800 families and with the help of generous adopters as well as those who provided extra toys for the holiday store helped over 3,300 children.
The children who receive Christmas aid all come from low-income families. Some are homeless. Many are in foster care because they have been abused or neglected in the past. Nearly all live in single-parent families, headed by working-poor women.
The children range in age from birth to age 15. Most are currently enrolled in day care at Operation Breakthrough, are "alumni" of the Center or are the siblings of enrolled children. The rest are children who live in the general neighborhood of the Center, whose families are known to the staff or they are referred for Christmas aid to Operation Breakthrough from other social service agencies, such as Children's Mercy Hospital.
In the fall, the parents select gifts from a pre-determined wish list of items, each generally $25 and under, that their children would enjoy. They also include their children's clothing sizes and note whether their children need a specific piece of clothing. That information is given to people who want to help.
Donors specify the size of the family they want to adopt. The families range in size from one parent and one child on up to six or more children.
It is our hope that donors will provide at least three new, unwrapped gifts for each child. (The Center appreciates donations of used clothing and toys at other times of the year, but those items are not given as Christmas gifts.) In most cases, the gifts donors give will be the only ones the children receive.
We also ask that donors provide funds for the family's holiday meal - $30 for a family of four and under, $60 for larger families.
Many donors also want to give the parent a gift. We suggest a gift card to Target, so the parent can get something the family needs, and donors do not have to worry about sizes, colors, etc.
Over the years we have also realized that there are other families in the community that are unable to provide Christmas for their families. Many of our generous donors provide extra new gifts and toys and want to help provide Christmas for those families. The week before Christmas we allow the other families in this area to come to the warehouse and pick out three gifts for each one of their children. Last year we provided toys for another 315 families in the area. These families are screened and we are assured that they are not receiving Christmas from other agencies. In total for 2011, with both the adopt-a-family and the families that use the holiday store, we were able to help over 3,300 children. This could never have been possible without the wonderful generosity of our Christmas donors.
Every year we receive requests from families requesting Christmas assistance from all over the country. Just to be clear, we only assist those in the Kansas City, MO area.
Call Lee Duckett at 816-329-5222 or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.