As always, Christmas is the busiest time of year for Community Services League, but it also is the agency’s happiest time of the year.



“As much as we all believe in Santa Claus, our magical support comes from the people who live in Eastern Jackson County,” said Doug Cowan, CSL’s chief development officer. “I know we were able to put a lot of smiles on families’ faces.”

As always, Christmas is the busiest time of year for Community Services League, but it also is the agency’s happiest time of the year.

“As much as we all believe in Santa Claus, our magical support comes from the people who live in Eastern Jackson County,” said Doug Cowan, CSL’s chief development officer. “I know we were able to put a lot of smiles on families’ faces.”

This year, CSL helped 700 families out of its Noland Road headquarters alone, as well as contributing more than 5,000 gifts for the children of those families.

“It was quite a big undertaking,” Cowan said.

Families who came through CSL Christmas stores also received a Christmas meal. Volunteers from across the metropolitan region, churches and businesses all provided the staffing needs for the stores.

Cowan said CSL is thankful to the community, whether citizens provided a donation or just said a prayer for those in need. For example, HiBoy locations in Independence matched customers’ donations up to $500 to help provide assistance to families in need. GEHA employees in Independence and Lee’s Summit also collected more than 125 new gifts and raffled off an iPad that raised more than $600. 

“The year just ended on a really, really high note for us,” Cowan said.

Going into 2013, he said, Community Services League wants the residents of Eastern Jackson County to remember that people in need don’t stop just because the holidays are over.

“People get in such a giving mindset in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I usually call the first three months of the next year the ‘holiday hangover,’” Cowan said. “Come (Wednesday), though, families will come to our door for whatever reason, whether they are out of a job or because of other circumstances. We will start a new calendar year, but the need continues.”

The agency is always needing cash to assist families with rental and utility support, as well as donations of food and clothing. With clothing donations, it’s good to think a season ahead, Cowan said, meaning CSL is now seeking spring and summer clothing donations.

From a food standpoint, CSL seeks donations of meals that are easily prepared with all of the ingredients in one box.

“A lot of the families who see us don’t have a traditional oven and a lot of the cooking is done in a toaster oven or a microwave,” Cowan said. “Keeping those things in mind when donating is always really appreciated.”

The new calendar year also brings new leadership at CSL, as CEO and president Jerry Jensen begins his role on Wednesday. Jensen and his wife, Patty, a former educator for the Lee’s Summit School District, lived in the area for more than 30 years before relocating to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the past seven years.

“I know he is looking forward to redeveloping a lot of the relationships he had here in Eastern Jackson County,” Cowan said of Jensen. “He’s looking forward to getting going. I know he’s anxious to meet our community of supporters and those who volunteer their time at CSL.”