Roeland Parkers urged to buy gift certificates to help those in need this holiday season

A neighborhood group and the Roeland Park Police Department are asking residents to help spread holiday kindness by way of gift cards, specifically to Roeland Park businesses such as the ones above.

The Roeland Park Police Department and the citizen-led Neighbors for a Better Roeland Park recently partnered to launch a citywide “Holiday Kindness Project” aimed at giving a helping hand amid the ongoing economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initiated by the Neighbors for a Better Roeland Park — which also spearheaded the purchase of hundreds of Roeland Park yard signs that popped up this summer with inclusive messages — the holiday project is aimed at raising funds through gift cards that will go to those in need during the holiday season.

Group member Shea Geist said the project is part of the group’s larger goal to take action in addressing issues when they’re noticed, and hopes to help people grappling with COVID-19 and the upcoming holiday season.

As of Monday, Nov. 30, the project had been able to purchase $1,035 worth of gift certificates with cash donations. Geist said after the project stops accepting donations on Jan. 1, they city will provide the group with a total number of gift card donations.

Below is how the holiday kindness project works:

  • Residents are encouraged to purchase as many $10 to $20 gift certificates they would like from Roeland Park businesses such as restaurants, hair salons or big box stores.
  • Gift certificates should then be put into envelopes labeled “Holiday Kindness Project” and dropped off with the cashier on the second floor of Roeland Park city Hall, 4600 W. 51st Street.
  • Cash donations will also be accepted, and can be donated via PayPal to sheageist@gmail.com or via Venmo (@Shea-Geist) with notations that it’s for the Holiday Kindness Project. All cash donations will be used to buy gift certificates.
  • Once received, Roeland Park police officers will distribute the gift certificates at their discretion when they encounter people in Roeland Park in need.

Geist said the group hopes to look into making the project an annual event, and potentially hosting a “Shop with a Cop” event. Additionally, Geist said the group knows officers are already engaging in similar activities, and wanted to support officers’ efforts.

“We know that they’re already using their own money to make lives better for people they come into contact with in our community,” Geist said. “We wanted to support that and make sure that it’s not coming out of their pockets, that they can do something cool for somebody and it doesn’t necessarily impact them personally in a way that might be negative.”