KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It didn’t look like the cars would ever stop coming. Each one with a volunteer behind the wheel eager to deliver a box full of food and a bag full of presents to needy families across Kansas City.
As each of the nearly 300 cars pulled into City Union Mission’s Community Assistance Center, other volunteers packed them with frozen turkeys, other traditional Christmas food, and presents.
Each year the Mission collects donations and organizes volunteers for its “Operation Christmas” campaign. The effort helps more than 600 families and provides more than 4,500 children and adults with presents.
“We're not here to pass judgment, but we're here to say Kansas City loves you, they give to you, and we want to help you out,” explained Dennis Chapman from the City Union Mission, a Christian-based outreach group serving the homeless and poor.
Families had to fall under a specific income level to qualify for the assistance.
As part of the project, City Union Mission sets up a Christmas store ahead of time where parents pick out new toys for their children for free. Volunteers wrap them and then Friday, drivers acted as Santa’s elves delivering the presents to their final destinations.
“It's a little overwhelming that I don't need help like that and you're grateful for that, but you're also grateful you can help brighten their day, especially this time of the year ahead of Christmas,” said Deke Belden, a driver who’s volunteered the past four years.
Brandi Lewis brought her two young daughters with her to make deliveries Friday. She said volunteering shows them they can make a difference in the world.
“I think it's a good learning experience for them to see not everybody lives like we do and everybody around us does. So it's nice to give back,” Lewis said.
In all, City Union Mission expected to deliver 21,000 toys Friday.