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Examiner
  • Service to host community part of World Conference

  • When Jessica Ralston was asked to lead one of the community service projects during the 2013 Community of Christ World Conference, she did not hesitate to accept.

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  • When Jessica Ralston was asked to lead one of the community service projects during the 2013 Community of Christ World Conference, she did not hesitate to accept.
    “I was a teacher in the Independence School District for the last 12 years, so this is something that is near and dear to my heart,” said the Lee’s Summit resident. “To see how everyone has really joined together to help is really incredible.”
    For one of the service projects during the conference, which ends Thursday, volunteers put together more than 250 necessity bags for the Independence School District’s Family Services Department. More donations are expected to come in throughout the week, so Ralston is planning on putting additional bags together. In 2012, the Family Services Department helped about 900 homeless children and their families.
    The district considers students homeless when they lack a fixed, regular and adequate nightly residence. This includes students staying in transitional or emergency shelters, campgrounds, motels and homes of other families because of a loss of housing or an inability to afford housing. Others are awaiting foster care, staying in substandard housing, living in places not ordinarily used for sleeping, have run away, have been thrown out of their homes or have been abandoned in a hospital.
    Family services supports two early education centers in Independence. The highest need is basic hygiene supplies for infants and toddlers, age 6 weeks to 4. The second-highest need is for clean kitchens and bathrooms.
    Ralston said with this information volunteers put together three different bags – one for babies and toddlers, one for children and one full of cleaning supplies. Items ranged from shampoo, brushes and combs, toothpaste, diapers, wash cloths, small toys and books and puzzles to hand soap, dishwashing liquid, toilet paper and sponges.
    Donations were collected from the thousands of attendees to the conference, from the United States and from throughout the world.
    “When I heard about this, I thought it was the perfect time to help those in our own community,” Ralston said. “The evening when we put these together was such a huge success. I had no idea we would go so fast, but so many volunteers showed up. It was wonderful.”
    The second service project is a food drive. The idea was to see how much non-perishable food could be collected by the 4,000 people attending the conference. All of the food collected will be donated to the Harvesters Community Food Network.
    It is the only food bank in Kansas City that serves as many as 66,000 people in any given week. The goal is to collect 2,500 pounds of food during the weeklong event.
    “I would do absolutely anything for the children of Independence,” Ralston said. “I know when these kids see the bags, they are going to feel happy. That makes me incredibly happy.”
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