Creative thinking lands Operation Holiday a space just in time

Sears at Towne West Square is closing. (Sept. 17, 2014)
Sears at Towne West Square is closing. (Sept. 17, 2014) File photo

A week after setup would normally begin, Operation Holiday organizers finally know where they’ll create a retail location to serve up to 14,000 people.

The program, run by Inter-Faith Ministries, will be held this year in the former Sears store at Towne West Square.

Initially, organizers thought the Sears space was unusable. It had no loading dock, no restrooms, no running water.

Ashley Davis, director of Operation Holiday, said the specialty leasing manager at the mall thought “outside the box” and that the Wichita Fire Department and code enforcement were able to quickly inspect and approve parts of the space.

Volunteers will be able to use mall restrooms, Radiant Church next door will provide water and Cummins Central Power is lending a portable loading dock.

Operation Holiday, run by Inter-Faith Ministries, serves 11,000-14,000 people each year, half of whom are children. It is income based, providing families and people who are elderly and disabled with food, blankets, pet food, winter-wear and toys.

“We’re looking at three days of moving, but by the end of next week the vacant space I’m walking into now will have a whole new look,” Davis said.

People may apply for Operation Holiday assistance until Dec. 1. Locations and details about applications are available at http://interfaithwichita.org/operation-holiday/apply.


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Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @KathsBurgess