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Operation Holiday still needs space days before setup begins

Frank Akerman gives books to children at Operation Holiday's distribution center in 2016. The program is looking for space to use as a distribution center this year.
Frank Akerman gives books to children at Operation Holiday's distribution center in 2016. The program is looking for space to use as a distribution center this year.

The situation “is truly becoming dire” for Operation Holiday as the nonprofit searches for a distribution center, said Ashley Davis, director of the program.

Davis spoke with The Wichita Eagle last week about the difficulties of finding a location, which they’ll need for six to eight weeks to distribute food, gift cards, blankets, coats and toys to low-income families and people who are elderly and disabled.

The ideal warehouse has 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, two entries, a loading dock, restrooms, heating and parking — but at this point, Davis said she’s willing to get creative.

Maybe an empty school would work. If large enough, an empty church, or a series of store fronts could be used.

“This isn’t we need our pick of buildings, it’s we need a space and need to be able to get in in the next 5 to 10 days,” Davis said.

The first week of November is when the program normally starts moving into a warehouse.

The issue isn’t finding a space that’s large enough, Davis says. It’s getting an owner to allow them to use the property. So far, she’s asked several dozen property owners, management companies and real estate agents.

Another issue is that many spaces don’t have the accessibility needed for 11,000 to 14,000 recipients, 200 volunteers and pallets of items in bulk.

Davis said she thinks property owners are worried that if they let one group use the building, others will start asking.

“I think they just don’t want to open that can of worms,” Davis said.

Anyone who has a warehouse or other large property available can contact Davis at Inter-Faith Ministries, 316-264-9303 or adavis@interfaithwichita.org.

Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @KathsBurgess

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