Eileen Weir is active in many Eastern Jackson County community organizations. Contact her at townandgown@sbcglobal.net or in care of The Examiner, P.O. Box 459, Independence, MO 64051.

Voters in Independence, Kansas City, Sugar Creek and parts of unincorporated Jackson County made history just over a year ago by passing a historic measure to annex seven schools into the Independence School District. 

Since that time the communities have sought opportunities and supported efforts to welcome new students and families and make the transition between districts as seamless and successful as possible. Countless volunteers have contributed in public and private ways to encourage teachers, faculty and students and further enhance the quality of education in our town.

Independence accepted thousands of families with open arms knowing that challenges would come, too. With the great abundance of optimism and accomplishment that exist within our schools, there also remains great need. Escalating that need are the recent increases in unemployment, decreases in health benefits and rises in cost for ordinary household and grocery items. But our communities have proven that no obstacle is too great for us to overcome when we join together for a common cause.

On Thursday Independence Square merchants are offering an opportunity to assure every patron family of the Independence School District has a reason to rejoice on Christmas day. Selected Square businesses will be open extended hours on Thursday to collect contributions for “Gifts of Christmas.”

 From 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. residents are asked to bring a gift to give to a family in need.  Your generosity will be rewarded with a small present from participating merchants. 

A list of appropriate items has been supplied by the Independence School District and will be listed in The Examiner and posted on www.newindependencesquare.com. Items include such things as small appliances like microwaves, toasters, vacuums, family games, bedding and linens, kitchen utensils and equipment including pots and pans, toys, books, movies and new clothing in all sizes.

A simple way to contribute without adding another errand to your holiday to-do list is to add a grocery gift card to your purchase next time you are performing the weekly chore. Every major supermarket offers gift cards in a variety of denominations and the cards are a welcome present for those families in our neighborhoods struggling to put meals on the table. 

As you complete your holiday shopping, remember to patronize your local merchants and make a special appointment to cruise the Square Thursday. A small gift from you will make a huge difference this holiday season.