Toys for Dots program benefits area children
The Wyandot Center’s PACES agency is hoping to make the holidays a little brighter for about 1,700 children across the county.
The agency, which provides services to help Wyandotte County children with emotional and behavioral health concerns and their families, is putting together the sixth annual Toys for Dots program, using funds raised to purchase toys to distribute.
Dawn Diaz, hiring coordinator with PACES, said the agency had used the Toys for Tots program in the past to help out the underprivileged families it served. But in 2004, the Marines that run Toys for Tots were short-staffed.
“My friend said he had a dream that we could do it ourselves,” Diaz said. “So we served about 200 kids that year, and last year we served around 1,700.”
PACES case managers identify the 3 to 18 year olds who are most in need from among its clients.
“We’re always in their homes anyway, so we’re seeing for ourselves what’s going on,” Diaz said. “We’re in the house once a week, and we have a pretty good idea of what their needs are.”
And there are some indications the number of children applying to receive a gift will rise above last year’s total.
“There are some people that were doing pretty well last year, but now they are not doing so well — maybe they’ve lost their jobs or ready to lose their homes,” Diaz said.
So the goal for this year’s Toys for Dots program is to raise $25,000 by Dec. 15 to provide one nice gift per child.
A group of PACES staff then goes on a huge shopping trip to purchase gifts that are age and gender-specific. Case managers select gifts they think would be most appropriate for their clients and deliver them to parents to give to their kids for Christmas.
Diaz said they feel having the children receive the gifts from the parents is important.
“When possible, case managers bring parents up so they can select a gift,” she said. “Some parents, they want to give their kids something and they can’t.”
Donations to Toys for Dots can be made by visiting paceswc.org and clicking on the bright yellow Make A Donation button in the upper right corner, or by sending a check payable to Wyandot Inc.–Toys for Dots to PACES at 757 Armstrong Avenue, Kansas City, KS, 66117.