As Christmas draws near, Operation Breakthrough along with the Chiefs Women’s Organization (CWO) is making sure children in the Kansas City area have their wish lists fulfilled. For the third year, the CWO has participated in the Adopt-A-Family program with Operation Breakthrough, a non-profit organization serving children and their families in the Kansas City metro.
Through this partnership, 143 families have been adopted and gifts have been purchased for 316 children.
“The CWO has adopted some of our families because a lot of our families can’t afford Christmas,” Sister Berta, one of the Operation Breakthrough founders, explained. “We probably have 30 percent of our families that don’t have utilities at home and we have a lot of kids without food. So many of our families live below the poverty level. We have about 100 homeless kids. We serve some of the poorest kids in Kansas City.”
Operation Breakthrough has managed the Christmas adoption program for the past 30 years. Families can apply for the adoption process in October and, if adopted, receive their gifts a few weeks before Christmas.
“The moms or dads can apply in October. They write down the sizes, ages and about five toys that the kids want for Christmas,” Sister Berta noted. “Then the CWO can adopt a family and purchase the gifts for the kids. We collect them from Arrowhead and then the mothers can pick them up from Operation Breakthrough so they can wrap the presents and set them out for Christmas morning.”
For some CWO members, they decided to cut back on Christmas spending for their own families’ presents to be able to buy for others.
“I talked to my kids and we decided that the majority of our Christmas spending would be on these families that we adopted,” CWO member Lisa Alberino commented. “My kids went shopping with me all day to buy for these families and once they started running around the store and finding presents for the kids, they decided to put in some of their own money to help buy the kids additional gifts.”
For many of the CWO member’s families, it became a family affair.
“The Adopt-A-Family opportunity is very meaningful and special to my family,” CWO member Kirsten Krug said. “We shopped for the children knowing that their Christmas morning will be exciting and enjoyable.”
Some of the gifts included essentials, such as toiletries, socks, coats and backpacks. Members of the CWO also provided gift cards for the mothers to buy additional presents and a gift card to a local grocery story for the family to have a Christmas meal.
“We have kids that go home and don’t eat. We have a food pantry, but it’s not always full and food stamps are designed to only last three weeks…One little girl, about ten years old, said she wants to be a chef when she grows up so she will never go hungry.”
This year, the CWO donated $1,680 for Christmas meals.
The Adopt-A-Family program has made Christmas a joyful day for many children in the Kansas City area. Unfortunately, there are more families to be adopted than there are donors, so Operation Breakthrough tries to provide a solution.
“We have a program for the families that don’t get adopted,” Sister Berta noted. “We have a store where people can donate gifts and the moms can shop without money. So if you weren’t adopted (through the program) you could still get three gifts for your kids from this store.”
Any gifts left in the store after Christmas, Operation Breakthrough uses them as birthday presents through the year.
“During kids’ birthdays, moms can get a gift for their child’s birthday from our store,” Sister Berta explained. “We used to give the kids a birthday ribbon and when I was pinning it on a young boy one day, he said, ‘Does my mom know it’s my birthday?’. So when she came to pick him up, I asked her about it and she said, ‘Sister, I didn’t have any money. I was going to tell him Friday was his birthday so I could get him something.’ So now, if there is anything left in the store, we can give the mothers a gift to give to their children.”
The store is not always full, however, there is always a need and donations are accepted year round.
The donations made by the CWO were picked up by Operation Breakthrough on Wednesday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. Chiefs employees along with KC Wolf were happy to lend a hand in loading up the gifts. The items were then dropped off at Operation Breakthrough’s Christmas warehouse for mothers to pick up their gifts this weekend. With the abundance of gifts donated by the CWO, a very merry Christmas morning is guaranteed for many Kansas City families.
If interested in donating for Christmas, gifts are still being collected at the Operation Breakthrough warehouse located at 1235 Bedford, Kansas City, Missouri. The warehouse is open Thursday (12/13) and Friday (12/14) until 5 p.m., Monday (12/17) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday (12/18) and Wednesday (12/19) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.