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Operation Breakthrough hopes to meet holiday needs for local families

Operation Breakthrough Holiday Store
Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2021-03-27 21:33:16-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As many families struggle to make ends meet, one organization is hoping to meet their needs for the holidays.

2020 marks the 25th year for Operation Breakthrough's Christmas Program.

It includes a holiday store that provides gifts for hundreds of children and teens in Kansas City, Missouri, but CEO Mary Esselman said its impact reaches far beyond Christmas Day.

"Our Christmas tends to be the Christmas for most families that we serve in the community," Esselman said. "They really look to this because it allows them to pay that bill they may not otherwise be able to afford to pay. By our providing gifts from the community, families are really able to make sure they can keep the utilities on."

According to the organization, typically, more than 70% of the families they serve live on less than $1,000 per month, but this year, that number is even lower due to the effects of the pandemic.

"It's had a huge effect on the community," Esselman said. "There are a lot of families that have been reaching out to sign up, worried about how they are going to provide Christmas, so we've actually had a lot of new families this year signing up and needing that support."

Operation Breakthrough expects to serve more than 800 children up to 15 years old with its holiday store. Members of the community can donate gifts or adopt a family. To learn more about adopting a family, visit the organization's website.

Here is the list of most needed items for all ages:

  • Hoodie sweatshirts
  • Scarves and hats for teens
  • Diaries or journals
  • Wallets or purses
  • Bath and body items
  • Baby dolls
  • Barbie clothes and accessories
  • Action figures
  • Lego sets
  • Remote control cars
  • Toy dishes and food
  • Playdough
  • Educational toys
  • Gift certificates: McDonald's, Target, Walmart

Operation Breakthrough is also asking for stockings for the 500 children in their education programs.

For more information on where to take donations, email Operation Breakthrough at