Lenexa is gearing up for its annual Warmth Trees program — a local opportunity to gather winter coats, blankets and other warm clothing for those in the community who need them.
Emily Semadeni, legal assistant for Lenexa and chair of the city’s We Care committee, said the cause is great members of the community who especially want to help their neighbors.
“It is a time of year when a lot of folks are focusing on abundance and gratitude, and it is an easy, simple task to do to reach out to the community and to bring them warmth, not only physically but emotionally let them know that their community cares about them.
“We want to encourage the community to help share the warmth of the season.”
Starting Nov. 26, city staff will have Warmth Trees stationed throughout Lenexa. People can decorate the trees with hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, socks, earmuffs, blankets and even cash donations, if they so choose.
“We’ve had folks knit hats and scarves with all of the school colors,” Semadeni said. “It has been so cool to see someone taking the time to hand-make these donations to benefit the community members that need the assistance.”
The Warmth Trees will be at the following locations:
- Lenexa City Hall, 17101 W. 87th St. Pkwy.
- Municipal Services, 7700 Cottonwood St.
- Lenexa Rec Center, 17201 W. 87th St. Pkwy.
- Lenexa Public Market, 8750 Penrose Lane
- Fire Station 1, 9620 Pflumm Rd.
- Lenexa Community Center, 13420 Oak St.
- Lenexa Police Department, 12500 W. 87th St. Pkwy.
Donated items will decorate the trees through Dec. 31, after which city staff will collect the items and divide them to be distributed among three groups: the clothing center at the Shawnee Mission School District, the Sunflower House and Safe Home.
“I can’t even remember not doing it; I’ve been with the city for 18 years,” Semadeni said, adding that social media has probably acted as a catalyst that allowed public participation to surge in recent years.
During last year’s drive, Lenexa was able to collect several blankets, glove/mitten combinations and the following:
- 341 hats
- 46 scarves
- 404 pairs of gloves/mittens
- 63 pairs of socks
- 22 earmuffs
Lenexa staff also participates in Red Bags KC, a local nonprofit that provides opportunities for people to sponsor children for Christmas by filling red bags with gifts for them. Each city department adopts individuals or families, gathers information about them such as their clothes sizes and wish lists, and then fills a red bag of wrapped gifts of new clothes, toys and necessities for them. Semadeni said some of the requests by the children can get fun.
“We do our best to help meet their necessities — warm winter clothing, things of that nature,” she said, “but one of our boys this year, he’s 7, he asked for a one-pound bag of Skittles. So sometimes they’re fun.”