St. Ann students make season brighter for local kids in foster care system

St. Ann students loaded up more than 130 red bags full of Christmas gifts for foster care kids and needy families.
St. Ann students loaded up more than 130 red bags full of Christmas gifts for foster care kids and needy families.

Had they donned more festive attire, you might have mistaken the dozens of St. Ann Catholic School students busily at work Friday afternoon for Christmas elves. As program director Tammy Lauden consulted her clipboards and directed traffic, the elementary and middle schoolers loaded up the back of a cargo truck with more than 130 giant bags stuffed with brand new Christmas gifts.

Now in its 32nd year, St. Ann’s Red Bag Program provides a merry Christmas to kids in the Kansas City-area foster system whose caretakers may not be able to provide them with gifts otherwise. For weeks before the big day, students and St. Ann families work to collect new toys, games and stuffed animals as well as clothing and personal items to meet the kids’ Christmas lists. They then wrap the gifts, sort them into big bags for each individual, and load them up to be delivered. The program has even expanded beyond the foster system, with St. Ann students providing Christmas gifts for six disadvantages families this year.

The program was founded by St. Ann parishioner Daniel Jacob, who worked with the juvenile court system to help address the holiday needs of foster care kids.

The halls of St. Ann were lined with bags to be loaded up Friday afternoon.
The halls of St. Ann were lined with bags to be loaded up Friday afternoon.