Mission family adoption program looking to expand, partner with Roeland Park

Mission’s family holiday adoption program continues to grow each year.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, Mission leaders are looking to partner with Roeland Park to reach more families who may be struggling with finances through their holiday adoption program.

The family holiday adoption program, led by project coordinator and former councilmember Suzie Gibbs, serves families with children who attend seven elementary schools in Mission. A few years back, the program extended to serve families at Roesland Elementary where some Roeland Park children attend school. Participating families receive full meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as gifts for the children to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Gibbs and Ron Appletoft, the mayor of Mission, discussed the program at Roeland Park’s council workshop Monday and suggested ways that Roeland Park could get more involved.

“We’d love to have the city of Roeland Park be more involved with us,” Appletoft said. “We’re all one big community and I think this would meet all of our mission to be good neighbors to all.”

Growing need since program started in 2006

The gift-wrapping operation is held at Mission’s Sylvester Powell, Jr., Community Center.

Schools coordinate with families who would like to participate, including those who have no permanent homes or can’t afford a full meal or gifts for the holidays. The program benefits from the contributions of volunteers who cook meals, wrap gifts and deliver everything to the families.

“It’s amazing how we go out of there worn out, dead tired, but we’re all smiling because we’ve made somebody’s day much, much better than it was before,” Gibbs told the Roeland Park council.

The family adoption program is made possible by monetary donations as well as Christmas gifts, canned food, hygiene items and even fresh produce and milk. The program started in 2006 with providing meals and gifts for eight local families facing difficult circumstances. Last year, the program served Thanksgiving dinner to 73 families and Christmas dinner to 86 families.

“So you can see how our project has grown, and I’m sure it’s going to grow more because we keep having more requests from other schools,” Gibbs said, adding that so many members of the community are generous in supporting the program each year.

In fact, Gibbs said she doesn’t have to do any fundraising for the yearly project, but last year alone, they raised more than $18,000.

“People are so generous, but they know it’s for a good cause,” Gibbs said.

Additionally, the program is hosting an uplift truck Nov. 15 at Sylvester Powell Community Center to provide clothes, blankets, candles, matches and other necessities for homeless residents. The program also benefits from donations of white socks, which keep homeless residents’ feet dry and cold without risk of irritation from dye.

Roeland Park councilmember Michael Poppa was among the officials to express interest in supporting  the program.

“Everyone is very excited to be a part of this this year,” Poppa said. “It’s amazing.”