For 55 NEJC families, the holidays are brighter today thanks to Mission’s annual donation campaign

Volunteer Diann Vickers was busy wrapping presents this morning.
Volunteer Diann Vickers was busy wrapping presents this morning.

The holidays brightened considerably for 55 northeast Johnson County families today, thanks to donations spearheaded by the City of Mission and Councilor Suzie Gibbs.

It has been more than a decade since Gibbs received a call from a woman asking if she could get some help for the holidays. That first request launched the start of a holiday tradition that Gibbs still organizes, now with the help of dozens of volunteers who show up to wrap and deliver presents at Sylvester Powell Community Center.

The volunteers include police, public works and parks employees from Mission as well as board and city council members. Firefighters joined in to deliver presents this afternoon and the KC Thunder Ride motorcycle group were brought in by Councilor Pat Quinn to lend a hand.

Gifts have poured in over the weeks from people who selected cards off the donation trees at the community center for each member of the 55 families. In addition to the individual gifts, each family receives a large food box. This year, 21 bicycles were donated along with nine helmets and Mission Public Works employees made sure each of the bikes is in good working condition and looking brand new. Other donations included 100 pairs of Lee jeans, 130 hand-knitted scarves, cases of fruit and boxes of shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, combs, cosmetic bags and lotion for the mothers and teens.

Gibbs worked with Rushton, Santa Fe, SM North and Roesland schools to identify the families needing a bit of help making the holiday a happy time.

The army of wrappers and delivery volunteers descended on the community center at 9 a.m. and all of the presents and food will be delivered today.

The gift assembly is a huge undertaking each year.
The gift assembly is a huge undertaking each year.
Presents are tracked by a number for each family to make sure the individual items end up in the right hands.
Presents are tracked by a number for each family to make sure the individual items end up in the right hands.
Dale Warman was one of the volunteers wrapping gifts Tuesday morning.
Dale Warman was one of the volunteers wrapping gifts Tuesday morning.