KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A fund to help students and their families facing financial difficulties is starting the new year in the black after receiving thousands of donations from the community.
The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation's Care Fund provides financial assistance to district families facing sudden difficulties.
It has helped families facing sudden eviction or unexpected medical costs.
"If we can take some of the pressure off of family in crisis, then our kids are much more likely to walk into school in the morning and be ready to learn, be ready to thrive," said Kimberly Hinkle, the foundation's executive director.
According to Hinkle, the foundation typically distributes around $30,000 a year to families in need. This year, that number is expected to exceed $35,000.
"We always see need, but they have really been coming in faster the last couple of months," she said. "We were several thousand dollars in the hole."
The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation sent an email to parents within the district, asking for donations.
"We have never said no to a request because of lack of funds, but requests are coming in faster than donations, and the future of this program is in peril," the email said.
Within a month, the foundation collected more than $15,000 of donations.
"We are now in the black, which is fantastic. And I think we have enough to probably support us through February," said Hinkle.
Families cannot directly apply for help. Teachers, principals, social workers and other district employees identify families in need and submit an application on their behalf. The foundation will distribute up to $500 to help a family one time.
To make a donation to the Cares Fund, you can visit and fill out the Education Foundation's online donation tool page.