Raising children is tough. Even in the most ideal circumstances. Now imagine if you were raising your son or daughter without a place to live, no idea where your next meal would come from, praying you could make your last two diapers stretch over the next three days, etc. It happens every day in our community.
As part of #GivingTuesday, here is a small list of organizations, some large and some small, that work to put children and their families first. Their websites list their specific needs, but all will accept monetary donations, and many are looking for volunteers.
CASA of Wyandotte and Johnson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) work to recruit, train and support community volunteers who act as advocates in court on behalf of child victims of abuse or neglect. A CASA volunteer is a consistent face dedicated to monitoring the child’s situation. A courtroom can be a very scary place for a child. Even the process of endless meetings and talking to different people in very “official” positions can be intimidating. That’s where a CASA volunteer comes in. They are a steady and reliable presence, advocating only for the child. Each year CASA volunteers dedicate more than 15,000 hours to children.
Happy Bottoms Diapers are expensive. Not having enough diapers means raw bottoms, sick children and overwhelmed parents. SNAP and WIC do not cover diapers which means an extra $75 – $100 per month in costs. Happy Bottoms provides free diapers to low-income families in our community. It works because they partner with social services agencies to distribute diapers directly to families. They can also stretch your dollar because of unique partnerships they’ve established that lets them buy large quantities of diapers at less-than-retail prices.
Operation Breakthrough provides a safe, loving and educational environment for children living in poverty. The organization is well known across the region for serving the working poor in our community. Co-founders Sister Corita Bussanmas and Sister Berta Sailer founded the organization in 1971 as a childcare program for 50 little ones. Since then, it has grown into before- and after-school care and now offers social services for children and their families.
Rose Brooks Center is literally about saving lives. This organization is a safe place for women and families who are escaping domestic violence. Imagine having to flee your home with your little ones and having nothing but the clothes you are wearing: no extra diapers, no extra food, snacks or formula for hungry infants. Not only does Rose Brooks provide a safe emergency shelter, they also help families rebuild their lives with dignity, resources and support. In 2012, this Center became the first domestic violence shelter in the region to welcome pets, as well. The center is always in need of new or gently used children’s clothing and also accepts new or gently used women’s clothing.
Shawnee Community Services This organization is dedicated to providing food, clothing, and a body of knowledge to anyone in need. Though they are called Shawnee Community Services, they have been serving the entire Kansas City metro since 1982. SCS gives out free bread and food to hundreds of families every day. They also provide free clothing and toys as well as household items at a minimal cost – unless families qualify to also receive those items free. One VERY cool thing about SCS: they welcome aluminum can donations. The proceeds are then used to pay the gas bill.
Sunflower House The Sunflower House is a place for children to be interviewed after a report of child abuse has been made. Staff members work with the police and child protective service social workers to talk with children in their safe and child-centered location. Sunflower house provides therapists to help children heal emotionally, as well as advocates for parents and caregivers for as long as is needed.
Synergy Services Located in Parkville, Synergy provides emergency shelter and support services for young people in crisis, serving ages 12 – 18. On any given night in Greater KC, there are more than 2,000 teens living on the streets. Often these teens have run away due to abuse or have been kicked out of their homes by their own families. Synergy not only addresses emergency and immediate needs, but also provides high quality physical and mental health services through their Teen Clinic – everything from eye exams to mental health care.
Variety the Children’s Charity of Kansas City In Kansas City, 1 out of 4 families are raising a child with special needs. Variety KC provides adaptive equipment and opportunities for activity and inclusion to children with special needs. Basically they are giving all kids the opportunity to be kids – to be social and mobile and to participate in life the way all kids should.
Even if you can’t take part in #GivingTuesday, you don’t need a hashtag to support and advocate for children across Greater Kansas City. These organizations need support all year. A generous community means a healthier community for our most promising citizens.