The refurbished Community Services League office in downtown Blue Springs, was the site of a gala open house that also opened some eyes of residents who found out the impact the organization is having on residents of the community.

“People think of Blue Springs - of this community - and they think, 'This is Blue Springs, there can't be homeless people in our community,'” Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross said. “Well, there are homeless people and there are homeless children, and all sorts of folks who are in need.

“And this is a place they go to seek help. People with needs have another real champion in Melodie Chrisman and the volunteers at the Community Services League.

“This has always been a wonderful part of our community, and Melodie is a lady who is going to help as many people as she possibly can. We've always had great people involved with the Community Services League, and she's a go-getter who is going to make this a resource for the people who need help the most.”

For years, Chrisman has reached out to the community through a program at Blue Springs Price Chopper stores, where volunteers staff food containers one Saturday a month and ask shoppers to buy an extra item or two that will be donated to the CSL.

“I believe I was the third person to volunteer for that program,” Ross said, grinning. “If Melodie Chrisman puts her mind to something, she's going to get it done. I am so impressed with everything I have seen today at the open house.”

He was so impressed he presented the CSL with a check from a private fund for $500.

“A private group has given me funds to use the best way I see fit,” the mayor said, “and I can't think of a better place to spend that money than at the Community Services League.”

The CSL office at 200 S.W. 10th St. now features a complete makeover with freshly painted walls, a private area where those seeking help can talk to a volunteer, a food pantry, an area that supplies winter clothing, an area where toys are being stored for the holiday season and the backpacks that are distributed to the Blue Springs Police Department.

“I've been working on the backpack program with Lt. Stacey Edwards at the Blue Springs Police Department, and the other day we had 15 officers up here filling the backpacks with a blanket, a hat or gloves, pop-top food items, including fruit, hygiene items like tooth brushes and deodorant, and plastic silverware,” Chrisman said.

“They are for homeless people, but also for the mom or daughter who have to leave their home because of a domestic disturbance, or the kid who is sleeping in his car because he had a fight with his parents. This has been a dream of mine and I recently got a call from the First Christian Church – the church that collects donations on a night when the members sleep out in the cold – and I told them I needed 80 blankets.

“And they said, 'We have 80 blankets.' INCREDIBLE! Someone then donated the backpacks and here we are. There have already been 10 backpacks handed out and the Police Department is coming back for 15 more. I'm just overwhelmed by this, by all the help and support we have received.”

The Community Services League is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and is staffed by former teachers who are volunteering their time. The phone number is 816-229-0033.