St. Ann families step up to provide Christmas gifts for more than 180 kids in need

St. Ann Catholic School 8th graders loaded up a truck with nearly 200 bags packed with gifts.

The St. Ann Catholic School foyer was a scene of abundant giving on Friday.

For 36 years now, St. Ann parisioners have stepped up to provide Christmas gifts to metro area kids and families in need through the Red Bag Program. Founded by St. Ann member Daniel Jacobs, the program has now spread to parishes across the Kansas City area. Catholic school students and families “adopt” underserved children, and spend a few weeks acquiring everything on their wish lists — from toys to clothes to toiletries.

Tammy Laudan, right, checks off the names of adopted kids as St. Ann 8th graders loaded the gift bags into the truck Friday.

Then, on a Friday in mid-December, students load up their gift bags for delivery to “Red Bag Central,” where they’re distributed to their recipients. Eight graders get the honor of helping load the bags onto the freight truck, which was loaned from his family’s furniture business by St. Ann member Paul Madden.

Tammy Laudan has been a coordinator of the program at St. Ann for the past two decades. She said the goal is to make sure every kid on the list gets to experience the excitement of Christmas morning.

“It’s of their whole Christmas,” she said. “We want it to spill out.”

This year, the program provided gifts for more than 1,600 kids. St. Ann families adopted 186 kids. In addition, the church provided gifts for some entire families.

“They might have nothing, and we’re all so blessed,” said Linda Cosgrove, the program’s other coordinator at St. Ann.