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Examiner
  • Fort Osage holiday charity program getting an early start

  • Christmas might still be three months away, but programs designed to help families in need during the holidays are already getting a jump on preparations.

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  • Christmas might still be three months away, but programs designed to help families in need during the holidays are already getting a jump on preparations.
    Applications are being accepted for the Fort Osage School District’s Holiday Assistance Program. Each family who qualifies receives a holiday meal basket for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The basket includes a turkey or a ham.
    Children newborn to 18 years old, receive one set of pants and a shirt, a new pair of shoes and a gift wish item that costs no more than $25.
    “Times are tough. Lots of people don’t have a job and need help,” said Connie Fields, the LINC site coordinator at Buckner Elementary and Osage Trail Middle School. “It is also a way for us to get to know our families and talk with them one-on-one. We begin to connect with them a little more.”
    Families qualify for the assistance program based on the same income requirements used for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. Children must be students in the Fort Osage School District or live within the district boundaries, and each family receiving assistance is required to volunteer for three hours in the schools. This could be at a school activity or event or a LINC event.
    Families who qualify are then included on Giving Trees at each school. The tags are anonymous so that names are not revealed. The trees are usually placed at the front entrance, so community members can come into the school, select a child from the tree and return their gifts to the school once shopping is completed.
    Fields said the Fort Osage Church of the Nazarene partners with the school district and generally provides a majority of the shoes and food for the holiday meal baskets.
    “I think across all of the schools, we probably helped around 350 families last year,” she said. “The volunteer aspect is important because that way, the families do not feel like it is charity. They feel like they are giving back and really making a difference.”
    For more information about applying for the Holiday Assistance Program or making a gift or monetary donation, call the LINC/Caring Communities Coordinator at one of the Fort Osage schools.
     

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