Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tis the season of giving

Clausie Smith

Clausie Smith

November 30, 2011

While the holiday season is probably the most beautiful time of year, this is also the time when people are most generous. There are so many good causes and agencies seeking funds at this time of year to make sure the needy in the area have food and the children receive gifts. The Salvation Army bell ringers are at all the malls and street corners and each day the mail brings a series of requests for contributions. In my opinion, most of these are worthwhile projects and deserve support.

Local service clubs certainly do a lot. For example, the Kiwanis Club set up Christmas trees at Ronald McDonald House and the Rotary Club will conduct its annual auction to aid Vaughn-Trent Community Services, Inc. Yes, there will be many opportunities to aid the less fortunate in our area.

In addition to giving to the church, I have two favorite charities that I help annually. The first is Vaughn-Trent, which has a long record of serving the needy in USD 204. Vaughn-Trent is a charity that depends on the generosity of area residents. The agency started as the Marion Vaughn Christmas Fund and as the community needs grew, it expanded. Two-and-a-half decades ago it became Vaughn-Trent Community services, honoring former Bonner Springs Mayor and Chieftain Publisher Marion Vaughn and longtime Edwardsville mayor, the late Lindy Trent. The name symbolizes the cooperation between the two cities.

The agency is best known for the Christmas basket program. Next week, the basement of the First Christian Church converts into an assembly line as volunteers ranging from young grade school students to seniors assemble up to 250 or more baskets to deliver to qualifying families in the two communities on Dec. 15. If you haven’t ever viewed the project, it is certainly worth a stop. It is truly one of the outstanding projects in our area.

Vaughn-Trent is conducting its food drive for the Christmas baskets now, so please give generously. The organization will be collecting items during the Christmas parade and lighting ceremony on Dec. 5, as well as at local stores and schools.

The holiday project is just one of many for Vaughn-Trent. The organization provides utility assistance, transient aid and a year-round food pantry. In fact, food for the pantry is needed all year. Vaughn-Trent also has back-to-school items. The agency does not receive federal funding but does receive money for utility assistance from the United Way.

Which brings me to my other favorite charity: The United Way of Wyandotte County. As is the case everywhere, the needs are growing and funds are hard to find. Even with tough times, United Way has raised more than $2 million this year and the drive is ongoing. Yes, Wyandotte County has its own United Way and did not merge with Kansas City, Mo. The reason was simple — we want to be better able to serve the needs of Wyandotte County. We live and work here and can best determine areas that need help.

I doubt there are many residents who have not been touched by a United Way agency. Overall, 35 agencies are served by United Way. These range from character-building organizations to social services. These include Bethel Neighborhood Center, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Red Cross, among many others.

I like the United Way mission statement: “To increase the community’s understanding of human needs and to mobilize resources to meet those needs.”

Yes, there are many fine charities that you can support with your holiday giving, but I urge you to remember Vaughn-Trent and the United Way. They are on the frontline in the war against local poverty and need.

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