Bells are ringing. Donation drives are underway. Volunteers are transporting and sorting toys, food, clothing, coats, blankets and other items. Charities are tallying contributions and counting down the days to holiday distribution.
But they need more help, and soon. Now comes the part where the community steps up, so the holiday programs can succeed in brightening this season for as many needy families and individuals as possible. Here are some of the ways and places to participate:
▪ Operation Holiday, a project of Inter-Faith Ministries that served 11,706 people last December, aims to help more than 13,000 during its distribution Dec. 18-20. Its goals include raising $350,000 to provide grocery store cards and collecting 150,000 nonperishable food items, 3,000 new blankets and 6,000 clean coats. It also partners with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. The distribution center is at 6225 E. Kellogg Drive, and donation sites include Dillons (nonperishable food only), Wells Fargo (nonperishable food, new blankets) and Spangles (coats only). The biggest need now is for food and cash donations. To help or get more information, go to interfaithwichita.org or call 316-264-9303.
▪ The Salvation Army’s Mission of Hope holiday campaign has set a goal of raising $1.75 million by the end of January. A celebrity kettle challenge will help on Tuesday outside Koch Arena before the Wichita State University men’s basketball team plays Seton Hall, as will the donations dropped into red kettles citywide and made online at donatewichita.com. Bell ringers can volunteer at ringbells.org. Collection of new, unwrapped toys for the Dec. 19-20 distribution in the Angel Tree program also continues; last year, nearly 10,000 area children received Christmas presents. For more information, go to centralusa.salvationarmy.org/wichita or call 316-263-2769.
▪ Share the Season is in its 15th year of offering one-time assistance to those facing unexpected hardship who need “an extra push,” as one grateful recipient put it. The project of the Wichita Community Foundation, the Salvation Army and The Eagle has raised more than $116,000 so far, after collecting more than $258,000 last year to help 200 families. Donations can be made through PayPal at www.sharetheseason.org or mailed to Share the Season, Wichita Community Foundation, 301 N. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202.
▪ The Sunday Eagle included the Holiday Wish List 2014, with opportunities to give to nonprofits devoted to aiding the poor, children, elderly, individuals with disabilities, animals and other good community causes. The list at Kansas.com includes links to the organizations’ websites. If most of the charities and projects are year-round, the list is compiled and offered in the holiday spirit.
Though the array of needs is large, so is the community’s capacity for giving. Please be generous, and be quick about it.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman